AFP has reported on an interview with Hamas leader in exile Khaled Meshaal in which he said that the group is “looking to focus it energies on popular resistance” without giving up the “right to armed struggle against Israel.” According to the report:
CAIRO — Hamas is looking to focus its energies on popular resistance without giving up its right to wage armed struggle against Israel, the Islamist movement’s leader Khaled Meshaal told AFP in an interview. “Every people has the right to fight against occupation in every way, with weapons or otherwise. But at the moment, we want to cooperate with the popular resistance,” the group’s Damascus-based leader said in the interview late on Thursday. “We believe in armed resistance but popular resistance is a programme which is common to all the factions,” he said. The Islamist movement, which rules the Gaza Strip, has long called for the destruction of the Jewish state and has fiercely defended its right to wage a bloody armed struggle to end the occupation. Although not opposed in principle by Hamas, popular, non-violent resistance has never been a priority for the group which made its name through its suicide attacks against Israel. His comments were made just hours after talks in Cairo with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, who heads the rival Fatah movement, in a bid to cement a stalled reconciliation agreement which was signed in May but has made no progress since. Speaking to reporters in Cairo, the two leaders approved a two-page document reiterating their commitment to the main elements of the original deal, and hailed a new era of “partnership.” The document, a copy of which was seen by AFP, outlines agreement on “the adoption of popular resistance” which is to be to be strengthened to oppose the seizure of land for Jewish settlement building and construction of the West Bank barrier. “This resistance will be increased and organised and there is to be an agreement on its style, on greater efficiency and the formation of a framework to direct it,” the accord says. Meshaal did not go into detail about the focus on popular resistance but said the Hamas leadership would ensure the agreement was translated into action. “I asked them to take practical and positive measures to flesh out this agreement,” he told AFP. “I have instructed the Hamas leadership (in Gaza and Damascus) to adopt a political line and one with the press that doesn’t upset the conciliatory spirit, and that truly reflects the atmosphere of reconciliation.” The Hamas chief also brushed off threats by the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which has vowed to retaliate should Abbas’s Western-backed Palestinian Authority form a unity government with Gaza’s Islamist rulers.
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The Hamas charter states that it is ” is one of the wings of the Muslim Brothers in Palestine” and an early media report indicated that shortly after Hamas took over the Gaza strip, Muslim Brotherhood representatives were present to review Hamas military formations. In 2007, a Hamas journalist acknowledged the role that the “international Muslim Brotherhood” has played in providing funds for the purchase of weapons and in 2008, an Israeli TV station reported that Muslim Brotherhood “representatives” had traveled to Gaza from Egypt through the open border to meet with Hamas. Hamas is supported financially and politically by the global Muslim Brotherhood and a NEFA Foundation report has documented the Hamas fund-raising activities of the Union of Good, a coalition of Islamic charities linked to the Brotherhood that provides financial support to both the Hamas “social” infrastructure, as well as its terrorist activities. Previous posts have also discussed the worldwide campaign orchestrated by the global Brotherhood against Israeli actions in Gaza during the 2008-2009 conflict with Israel. Anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli incitement in Hamas media is commonly reported.