File Photo: Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie, listens during a meeting with members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 (Photo: AP) Egypt, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 (Photo:AP)
The Palestinian Fatah movement has called on Hamas to disengage from the Muslim Brotherhood to protect the Palestinian people from "atrocities," Egypt's state-run news agency MENA reported Thursday.
The statement comes a day after the decision of Egypt's interim government to officially declare the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group.
Ahmed Assaf, the spokesman for Fatah, said in a statement that the continuation of Hamas's "subordination" to the international Muslim Brotherhood organisation will put millions of Palestinians -- especially those in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip -- in confrontation with several Arab states, including Egypt.
"This will lead to dangerous security and economic situation that will threaten the future and lives of the people there [in Gaza]," Assaf said.
Assaf called on Hamas, an ideological offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, to prioritise the interests of the Palestinians over other "partisan interests and foreign connections."
The Fatah leader said his movement, Hamas's main Palestinian rival, is confident of Egypt's awareness of the fact that Hamas forcefully controls Gaza, and represents a "small part" of the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip.
"Most Palestinians are loyal only to their identity, culture and nation," Assaf concluded.
Egypt and Hamas: Tense relations
The relationship between Egypt and Hamas has become tense following the ouster of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi in July, who hailed from the Muslim Brotherhood.
Since Morsi's ouster, the Islamist president has been charged with a number of crimes, including involvement with Hamas at the time of the Egyptian revolution.
Morsi, members of Hamas, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and Lebanon's Hezbollah movement are accused of storming prisons and the attempted murder of police officers on 28 January 2011.
The day saw mass protests in cities around Egypt against the rule of then-president Hosni Mubarak.
Titled "The Most Dangerous Terrorism Crime the Country Has Ever Seen," a statement issued by investigative judge Hassan Samir on 21 December accused the defendants of the attempted murder and kidnapping of three police personnel, and of detaining them in the Gaza Strip, along with other charges including possessing heavy weapons, committing aggressive acts, vandalising government facilities and looting "livestock, poultry and weapons" from prison warehouses.
The statement also accused the international Muslim Brotherhood organisation of concocting a "terrorist plan" in collaboration with Hamas and Hezbollah "to give up part of the Sinai Peninsula for the resettlement of Palestinians from Gaza."
On 18 December, prosecutors released new charges against the ousted president, of "collaborating with foreign organisations to commit terrorist acts in Egypt and revealing defence secrets to a foreign country," also naming Hamas and Hezbollah and running between the period 2005 to 2013.
Since Morsi's ouster, the Egyptian armed forces have launched a large-scale operation against militant groups who had stepped up their attacks against security forces in the northern Sinai Peninsula.
Cairo has repeatedly accused Hamas of interfering in its internal affairs to support Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood and launching joint attacks with hard-line Islamists in Sinai, a position that was repeatedly denied by Hamas leaders.
Egypt, however, has warned of a military response if Hamas or any other Palestinian group tries to violate Egyptian security, Reuters reported in September.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy told the London-based newspaper Al-Hayat there was "tension" in relationship with Hamas. He suggested Hamas was not helping enough to secure the border.
"If Hamas proves through actions and not words -- and unfortunately there are many negative indicators -- its good intentions, then it will find an Egyptian party that ... protects the Palestinian side," Fahmy said.
In the post-Morsi period, Egyptian authorities have only intermittently opened the Rafah border with the Gaza Strip. The Rafah crossing is the only official gateway for the 1.7 million Gazans who live in the enclave, which is being blockaded by Israel.
Egypt has allowed only authorised travellers such as foreign nationals, visa holders, and patients seeking medical treatment, to cross.
Bassein Naim, advisor to Gaza premier Ismail Haniyeh, revealed communication between the Islamist government and Egypt's interim cabinet mainly through the General Intelligence Apparatus, MENA reported in November.
"These communications had positive implications; chief among them is the opening of the Rafah border crossing every now and then," Naim said in a press statement, adding that he wished for an improvement in "the circumstances, the means and the results of communication."
Naim further expressed his hope for a complete and undisrupted opening of the crossing, given that its closure has negatively impacted "everyone and everything in Gaza."
On Tuesday, Hamas denied involvement in bomb attack in the northern Egyptian city of Mansoura that killed 15 and injured 134 when a large explosion hit the city's security directorate, causing widespread damage to buildings in the vicinity including the city's council building, a state-owned theatre and a bank.
The Palestinian Islamist movement's spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement that the group had no link to this attack or any other in Egypt, and that Hamas condemns such accusation.