Muslim Brotherhood supporters
Muslim Brotherhood supportersAFP photo

Several leaders from various factions in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on Saturday urged Hamas to dissociate itself from the Muslim Brotherhood, some calling the Egyptian organization a "terrorist group," according to the Ma’an news agency.

A Fatah representative in the PLO executive committee was quoted as having said that Hamas should detach itself from the Brotherhood, warning of political, economic, and security consequences if Hamas remained "subordinate" to "this banned terrorist group."

"Confirm loyalty to the Palestinian people and the question of Palestine," Jamal Muheisin urged Hamas, according to Ma’an.

A representative of the Arab Liberation Front said that Hamas has always prioritized the Muslim Brotherhood's interests over the interests of the “Palestinian people.”

"The (Hamas) movement's subordination to the Muslim Brotherhood organization has weakened the Palestinian position," Mahmoud Ismail charged.

He called Hamas' takeover of Gaza in 2006-2007 "a military coup" that "split the Palestinian homeland into two parts."

Ahmad Majdalani of the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front said Hamas was viewed as a terrorist organization by many countries including the United States due to its affiliation with the Brotherhood.

Representatives of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Palestine People's Party echoed the calls for Hamas to declare itself independent from the Brotherhood.

Other PLO executive committee members accused Hamas of interfering in the affairs of other Arab countries, "especially Egypt and Syria," reported Ma’an.

Hamas should "respect the will of Arab peoples, especially the Egyptians who ousted the Muslim Brotherhood regime," the Secretary-general of the Palestinian Democratic Union Fida said.

Representatives of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the PPSF reiterated this sentiment.

Hamas is an offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. It enjoyed close ties to Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and has been “feeling the heat” from Egypt's new army-backed leadership, which deposed Morsi in July.

Since Morsi’s ouster, Egypt has been clamping down on the smuggling tunnels which are used to smuggle goods but also arms and terrorists between Gaza and the Sinai.

Egypt has also accused Hamas of being involved in terror attacks in the Sinai Peninsula and of teaching Islamists in Egypt how to carry out attacks. Hamas has denied the allegations.

The comments by the PLO officials reflect the tension between Hamas and its rival faction Fatah, headed by Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Shortly after Morsi was ousted, Fatah accused Hamas of being responsible for Egypt closing the Rafiah border crossing with Gaza, saying this was done because Hamas had intervened in Egypt's internal affairs in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Responding to Saturday’s remarks, Gaza government spokeswoman Isra Almodallal told Ma'an that while Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood may share ideology, they should not be seen as one and the same movement.

"We are in completely different circumstances," Almodallal said. "We don't want people to think Hamas is the same as the Muslim Brotherhood."

"We don't want Egypt to punish us the way the Muslim Brotherhood is punished in Egypt," she added.

Almodallal said Hamas agreed that "at this particular time" it is best to remain neutral in the affairs of other Arab countries.

When asked to comment on the PLO's accusations that Hamas prioritizes its Muslim Brotherhood interests over Palestinian national interests, she said she had no direct response.