Overlooked in the avalanche of news on the subject is a statement by Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh during a recent visit to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in which he described Hamas as “the Jihad arm of the Brotherhood, it is the Palestinian face.” According to a Washington Post report:
Two weeks later, the group gave a warmer welcome to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in his first visit outside the Gaza Strip since the militant group overran the territory in 2007. He was received at the Brotherhood’s main headquarters by a line of young men and veiled women waving green Hamas flags. The visit suggested the Brotherhood will seek to stronger ties with Hamas, which the Mubarak government generally shunned, even helping Israel in the post-2007 blockade of Gaza. Haniyeh emphasized the historic link between the groups. Hamas is an ofshoot of the Brotherhood, though the Brotherhood disavowed violence in the 1970s. “The Islamic resistance group of Hamas is the Jihad arm of the Brotherhood, it is the Palestinian face,” Haniyeh said.
Meanwhile, and appropriately, AFP is reporting that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are holding talks about a possible merger of the two organizations. According to the report:
Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the two main Palestinian Islamist movements, are holding talks about merging their two factions, sources from both movements said Tuesday. At a meeting with top officials from Islamic Jihad, Gaza’s Hamas-affiliated prime minister, Ismail Haniya, called for “opening a serious dialogue to achieve the merger of the two movements,” his office said in a statement. Islamic Jihad confirmed that talks to merge the two factions were already underway. “An in-depth dialogue has actually begun, both internally and externally, with the aim of uniting,” Islamic Jihad spokesman Daud Shihab told AFP, referring to the group’s leadership which, like Hamas, is based in both Gaza and Damascus. All previous attempts to merge the two Islamist movements had ended in failure, Shihab noted. He indicated that the current talks were taking place “at the highest level” among the leaders of both factions in Gaza and Damascus, as well as among Islamist prisoners currently being held in Israeli jails. Uniting the two movements would be “in the interest of both the Palestinian cause and the future of the Palestinian liberation movement, particularly in light of the Arab Spring,” Shihab said. The latest statements represent the first time for Hamas and Jihad to speak publicly about merging. The two factions have long held opposing views on government, with Jihad boycotting the last Palestinian elections in 2006 that were swept by Hamas. The initiative to explore a merger comes as Hamas and its Fatah rival, which dominates the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, struggle to implement a reconciliation deal signed in April 2011 that has made little progress on the ground. There are also moves to reform the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), which is internationally recognised as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, to allow Hamas and Islamic Jihad to join it. It also comes in the wake of a series of electoral successes for Islamist parties in Egypt and Tunisia following the political upheavals brought on by the Arab Spring.
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.
A series of posts covered Haniyeh’s recent tour of Arab capitals.