Several Palestinian groups have condemned the move by the UK’s Conservative government to ban the activities of Palestinian resistance group Hamas by terming it as a “terrorist organization.” Activists called it an attempt to please the Zionist lobby in the country and the Israeli government.
Priti Patel, home secretary in the Boris Johnson-led government, had announced the decision to move an amendment in the anti-terrorism law on Friday, November 19. If passed in the parliament this week, the amendment will make membership of Hamas and promotion of its activities a punishable offense in the UK.
Announcing the decision, Patel said that the UK can no longer differentiate between Hamas’s military and political wings. The country has outlawed Hamas’ military wing since 2001.The European Union and the US have already banned Hamas in totality as a terrorist organization.
Founded in 1987, Hamas (Harakat al-Muqawamah al Islmaiyyah or Islamic Resistance Movement) emerged as the most popular Palestinian movement following the second intifada in 2000. It won the majority of the seats in the last Palestinian elections in 2006. It also carries out militant acts against the occupation forces and is involved in numerous relief and rehabilitation works in the occupied Gaza strip. Several countries have banned Hamas due to its refusal to abandon armed resistance against the Israeli occupation, unlike the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).
Criminalizing Palestinian resistance
Mustafa Barghouti, secretary general of Palestinian National Initiative, told Al-Jazeera that the UK’s move amounts to criminalizing Palestinian resistance and promoting the apartheid regime established by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’s political bureau, condemned the move in a statement on Sunday. He also announced the start of a movement in Palestine and other parts of the world to confront the UK’s move. Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar was quoted by Al-Mayadeen saying that the UK’s decision was taken to please pro-Israeli elements and promote the “normalization” deals promoted by the “Zionist lobbies.”
Patel is considered to be a pro-Israel politician. In 2017, she was forced to resign from the Theresa May cabinet following a scandal about her meeting Israeli officials without official sanction.
The left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) has called the UK’s move an assault on the “legitimate resistance of Palestinian people.” It asked the UK government to take back the decision and correct its historical mistake of allowing the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
The Palestinian Mission in the UK condemned the move by saying that “the British government has complicated Palestinian Unity efforts and undermined Palestinian democracy.”