UK: Arab political leaders condemn Hamas proscription

Hamas leader Ismail Haniya (Ali Allouch - ATP Images)

Edna Mohamed

Middle East Eye  /  November 22, 2021

Jordan, Hezbollah and the Palestinian Authority have all put out statements criticizing the move by the UK.

A number of Arab political leaders have condemned the UK government’s decision to ban Hamas “in its entirety”, a move that could see those who express support for the group threatened with up to 10 years in prison. 

Lawmakers in the Jordanian parliament branded the move “an aggression on the Palestinian people and the Arab nation”.

In a statement by 75 members of the 130-seat House of Representatives, they described it as a “reward to the Zionist occupation which kills the Palestinian people […] and besieges the people of Gaza”.

They called on the British parliament to overturn the move as “it represents siding with [Israeli] aggression and oppression”.

The Palestinian Authority – which is controlled by Hamas rivals Fatah – expressed a similar position.

In a statement by the Foreign Ministry, they said that the classification was “an unjustified attack on the Palestinian people, who are subjected to the most heinous forms of occupation, and historical injustice established by the Balfour Declaration”.

The Palestinian Authority added that the move was Britain “acquiescing to Israeli pressure”. 

They noted that the decision announced by the British home secretary “comes a week after Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett demanded his British counterpart, on the sidelines of the climate summit meeting in Glasgow, approve Hamas as a terrorist organization.”

The ministry called on the British government to stop its policy of “double standards” and “to immediately retract (from) this decision.”

Hamas political official Sami Abu Zuhri condemned the move shortly after it was announced last week, saying that the act showed “absolute bias toward the Israeli blackmail and dictation”.

In a separate statement by Hamas, they said, “Resisting occupation by all available means, including armed resistance, is a right granted to people under occupation as stated by the international law.”

Lebanon’s Hezbollah also came out to condemn the move to blacklist Hamas, branding it “wrong and unfair”.

‘Rabidly antisemitic’

The decision to designate Hamas as a terrorist organization was announced last week by the British Home Secretary Priti Patel during a speech for the right-wing Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington DC. 

Patel explained that the move would help tackle antisemitism in the UK and told the organization, “Hamas is fundamentally and rabidly antisemitic […] Antisemitism is an enduring evil which I will never tolerate. Jewish people routinely feel unsafe – at school, in the streets, when they worship, in their homes, and online.”

As part of the new law, wearing clothes that suggest support for Hamas, organizing meetings for the group, or publishing an image of its flag or logo that would lead to the same conclusion, would all be in breach. 

The move will bring the UK in line with the United States, Israel and the European Union, designating Hamas as a terrorist organization in its entirety.

Previously, only the armed wing – the Izz al-Din alQassam Brigades – had been banned.

The new classification is set to be pushed through parliament later this week. 

Edna Mohamed is a freelance journalist focusing on international politics and development