Mahmoud Zahar and Khaled Mashal - Reuters
CAIRO – 9 May 2017: The results of Hamas’s new charter are still unfolding, as leading Hamas figure Mahmoud al-Zahar resigned from the Political Bureau of the movement, while Khaled Mashal reiterated detachment from its mother group in Egypt- the Muslim Brotherhood.
Qatar-based Mashal told Quds Press on Monday that he was not offered the presidency of the International Organization of the Muslim Brotherhood, now that he left the forefront of the Palestinian Islamist movement.
“It is self-evident that I was not offered that, and I certainly will not be, because Hamas is a Palestinian movement that restricts its work within the framework of the Palestinian issue,” Mashal said.
“In Hamas, we do not interfere in the affairs of others, neither states nor organizations, and Hamas is an organization independent of any other organization. Hamas’s reference is its leading institutions, but there are people who try to mix things up for obvious reasons,” he added.
Mashal and his successor, newly elected head of Hamas’ Political Bureau Ismail Haniyeh, participated in drafting the charter released on May 1, which did not cite the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas’s original 1988 charter deemed Hamas as the Palestinian offshoot of Egypt’s Brotherhood.
Hamas’s ties with the Muslim Brotherhood have also had their toll on relations with Egypt. However, the new charter and Mashal’s recent remarks seem to aim at better relations with the nation that controls Gaza Strip’s Rafah Crossing.
Mashal told Al-Araby TV on May 2 that Hamas is “keen on new relations with Egypt, being a neighbor and the biggest Arab country. We also have common history and we hope to improve relations not only by this charter.”
Nevertheless, he said Hamas’s ideology “falls within the Brotherhood school, the school of moderation.”
It is still unclear what role Mashal will play after leaving his two-decade position, especially since his settling in Qatar since 2012 following the onset of the Syrian Civil War. He was formally in exile in Syria, provided by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since 2001. He may become a member of the Shura Council of Hamas, or continue to impact the group from the shadows.
Meanwhile, Zahar, 72, attributed his resignation to “personal reasons” on Monday, yet he had criticized “compromises” in the new charter. Being an older member of the group, Zahar would not be led by Haniyeh, 54, who was elected to assume the highest position in Hamas last Saturday, according to observers’ speculations.
Haniyeh’s rival in the elections, 66-year old Mousa Abu Marzook, as well as Yahya Sinwar, Saleh al-Arouri, Khalil al-Hayya, Mohamed Nezal, Maher Ebeid, Ezzat al-Rasheq, and Fathi Hamad were all elected as members of the Political Bureau, according to a statement by Hamas, which did not name the 10 remaining members of the Bureau.
Additional reporting by Ahmed Gomaa