GAZA (Reuters) – Hamas has begun a training program for diplomats in the Gaza Strip where it rules, a senior official of the Islamist group said, raising the specter of divisions in the Palestinian national movement spreading to its representation abroad. Hamas seized Gaza in a 2007 civil war with the Western-backed Fatah party that long dominated Palestinian politics and now rules parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. But Hamas has hitherto not challenged the Palestine Liberation Organisation, dominated by Fatah and recognized by the United Nations as the Palestinians’ sole representative abroad for almost 40 years. It may be time to end that diplomatic monopoly, Hamas deputy foreign minister Ghazi Hamad suggested on Wednesday. ‘We have relations with some countries and we need to prepare our cadres and develop the diplomatic skills of staff to deal with those countries on joint projects,’ he told Reuters. ‘The aim of such a step and training is to develop relations with world countries when time and conditions permit,’ said Hamad. He declined to say how many diplomats-in-waiting would be trained, what tasks they would perform or where. Hamas officials seemed keen to play down the scheme to matriculate envoys from its mostly makeshift and short-staffed foreign ministry. They said they hoped a deal with Fatah could remove any need to deploy Hamas diplomats, but planned to have a corps of envoys ready should reconciliation prove impossible. The PLO, with roots as a paramilitary organization and umbrella body for the many, often feuding Palestinian factions, finally won recognition from Israel in the landmark Oslo interim peace deal of 1993. But Hamas is not part of the PLO.
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The Hamas charter states that it “is one of the wings of the Muslim Brothers in Palestine” and in July 2011, Egyptian Brotherhood leader Dr. Essam al-Arian acknowledged the relationship between the Brotherhood and Hamas stating “The Muslim Brotherhood Group as a public Islamic organization is the umbrella for many Islamist movements, including Hamas” In June 2007, a Hamas journalist acknowledged the role that the “international Muslim Brotherhood” has played in providing funds for the purchase of weapons for the organization.The Global Muslim Brotherhood supports Hamas through the Union of Good, a worldwide coalition of charities headed by Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi.