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The Arab & Islamic Summit in Riyadh Ignored Hamas

Hamas: The Arab and Islamic Summit in Riyadh Ignored Hamas \ Newslooks \ Opinion \ The Arab and Islamic summit in Riyadh on Nov. 11, 2023, was an impressive support for the Gazans. Fifty-five Arab and Muslim countries participated in the summit. One of the surprising results was that the final declaration did not mention Hamas at all. Was this an accidental omission or a deliberate one? It was deliberate because the communique also called on all Palestinian factions to unite under the umbrella of the Palestine Liberation Organization or the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. These two facts mean that the omission of Hamas was deliberate, further, that the summit was leaving Hamas out of whatever arrangement the United States and the Arab partners were discussing for the region’s future after the war. The deliberate omission of Hamas from the final declaration of the Arab and Islamic summit sends a clear message about the stance of the participating countries towards the group. To understand this deliberate exclusion, one must delve into the historical and geopolitical context surrounding Hamas and its relationship with key players in the Middle East.

The Founding Charter of Hamas can explain the reason for the exclusion. The Charter declares that Hamas is a wing of the worldwide Muslim Brotherhood movement and that it is against any peace agreement with Israel. It sees Israel as a foreign body that must be removed from the region. Hamas rejected all the Palestinian/Israeli peace agreements. This rejection of peace agreements, as stated in the charter, contrasts the summit’s emphasis on supporting the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002.

The final communique stresses that peace with Israel is the strategic choice of the Arab and Muslim worlds and affirms the support for the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, which proposed the normalization of relations by all Arab countries with Israel in return for establishing a Palestinian state on the land occupied in 1967. In addition, all Arab countries who signed peace treaties with Israel refused a request to freeze these agreements in protest of the Gaza war. In the end, this issue was not mentioned in the final communique.

Mr. Omar Shaban, the founder of Pal Think for Strategic Studies, an independent think tank from Gaza, explained that he was involved in Palestinian reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas for three years, partnering with many international organizations. Peace with Israel and ending the arms struggle were essential parts of the disagreement. Shaban judged that the two sides did not work hard enough to achieve reconciliation. The refusal to end armed struggle and recognition of Israel were also the reasons the international community boycotted the Hamas government since 2008.

On the other hand, Egypt strongly rejected Israeli threats to deport the Gazans to Sinai. Egypt explained its position by saying that emptying Gaza from Gazans would undermine the Palestinian cause.  The Arab summit asserts its rejection of any forced relocation of Palestinians to either Egypt or Jordan. But there is another aspect to Egypt’s position. When the Egyptian army removed President Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, from power, Abdel Fatah El Sisi’s government accused Hamas of intervening in Egyptian affairs to support the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt. Subsequently, Egypt classified the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization in December 2013. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates also declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization the following year. So, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain see Hamas with a cloud of suspension over it. This was reflected in the final communique of the summit.

This shared classification of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization by key regional players has cast a shadow over Hamas, influencing its standing in the eyes of these nations.

In conclusion, the deliberate omission of Hamas from the Arab and Islamic summit’s final declaration is a strategic move by the participating countries to signal their support for a unified Palestinian front committed to peace with Israel. This is, in essence, the idea that the United States and the Arab partners are talking about concerning the future of Gaza after the war. The historical context of Hamas’s rejection of peace agreements, coupled with its association with the Muslim Brotherhood and regional geopolitical dynamics, has contributed to its exclusion from the resolutions of the summit.

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