PLO urges Hamas to sever ties with Muslim Brotherhood
Several leaders from various factions in the PLO on Saturday urged Hamas to dissociate itself from the Muslim Brotherhood, some calling the Egyptian organization a "terrorist group."
A Fatah representative in the PLO executive committee said Hamas should detach itself from the Brotherhood, warning of political, economic, and security consequences if Hamas remained "subordinate" to "this banned terrorist group."
"Confirm loyalty to the Palestinian people and the question of Palestine," Jamal Muheisin urged Hamas.
A representative of the Arab Liberation Front said that Hamas has always prioritized the Muslim Brotherhood's interests over the interests of the Palestinian people.
"The (Hamas) movement's subordination to the Muslim Brotherhood organization has weakened the Palestinian position," Mahmoud Ismail said.
He called Hamas' takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2006-2007 "a military coup" that "split the Palestinian homeland into two parts."
Ahmad Majdalani of the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front said Hamas was viewed as a terrorist organization by many countries including the United States due to its affiliation with the Brotherhood.
Representatives of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Palestine People's Party echoed the calls for Hamas to declare itself independent from the Brotherhood.
The statements came days after the Egyptian government officially designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization whose members would be subject to interrogation and punishment.
Additionally, PLO executive committee members accused Hamas of interfering in the affairs of other Arab countries, "especially Egypt and Syria."
Hamas should "respect the will of Arab peoples, especially the Egyptians who ousted the Muslim Brotherhood regime," the Secretary-general of the Palestinian Democratic Union Fida said, referring to a popularly supported military overthrow of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi in July.
Representatives of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the PPSF reiterated this sentiment.
Fatah officials have slammed Hamas for its alleged support of the rebel army in Syria, even though officially Hamas has declared itself neutral. Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in addition to Hamas leader Aziz Duwaik have made public statements in support of the rebels.
Egyptian army authorities earlier in December accused Morsi of collaborating with Hamas during the 2011 Egyptian revolution. They said Hamas was involved in organizing mass prison breaks and "terrorist attacks."
'We don't want to be punished the way they're punished in Egypt'
Gaza government spokeswoman Isra Almodallal told Ma'an that while Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood may share ideology, they should not be seen as one and the same movement.
"We are in completely different circumstances," Almodallal said. "We don't want people to think Hamas is the same as the Muslim Brotherhood."
"We don't want Egypt to punish us the way the Muslim Brotherhood is punished in Egypt."
Almodallal said Hamas agreed that "at this particular time" it is best to remain neutral in the affairs of other Arab countries.
When asked to comment on the PLO's accusations that Hamas prioritizes its Muslim Brotherhood interests over Palestinian national interests, she said she had no direct response.
But she said no one besides Gazans understood the extent of the difficulty experienced by Palestinians in the besieged coastal enclave. Outside perceptions of Hamas, she added, including PLO executive committee members' perceptions, are negatively shaped by the media.
At the same time, she stressed that Hamas is fighting for the Palestinians at large, not just for Gazans.
"We are not here to fight with any faction," she said. "We are here to defend ourselves and fight for the Palestinian issue.
Hamas was founded in 1987 as an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement.
The division between Hamas and Fatah began in 2006, when Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections.
In the following year, clashes erupted between Fatah and Hamas, leaving Hamas in control of the Gaza Strip and the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in control of parts of the occupied West Bank. MaanNews