By: Prof. Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh.
The UK’s decision to designate Hamas, including its political wing, as a terrorist movement indicates that the influential parties and the Israel lobby have concerns regarding the rising popular support for the Palestine issue in the UK, and the growing sympathy towards the resistance, especially after “the Sword of Jerusalem” Battle in May 2021. In this context, the UK witnessed dozens of large pro-Palestine activities, among them a march in central London, where almost 200,000 joined. Also, opinion polls indicated a significant decline in the status of Israel for the British and the Europeans following that battle.
Consequently, the decision reflects a state of conflict between a government and a parliament majority, whose support is declining when it comes to their stance towards the Palestine issue, and the youth, whose support for the Palestinian people is growing. It comes amidst attempts to “repress” the growing popular anger at Israel and disrupt the activities exposing Israel’s agg against the land and people in occupied Palestine. It stems from a growing fear that this gradual public shift may reflect in electoral votes that would pressure the main parties and have an impact on their positions, consequently it would prompt a relative change in the official political behavior in favor of Palestine.
Also, the exaggerated cruelty in punishing those who violate the decision indicates the desire of the official authorities and their allies to block, or even “uproot,” the course that supports the resistance. Violating the decision, even by meeting with Hamas figures, may expose the violator to arrest, trial and imprisonment up to 14 years.
In taking this decision, the UK government benefited from the comfortable situation in which the British conservative right and the pro-Israel lobby found themselves in the House of Commons as the Conservative Party won a large majority in the last elections for reasons that are mostly internal (especially exit from the European Union) and have nothing to do with the Palestine issue. Moreover, the change that occurred in the Labor Party, after the elections, led to a new leadership supporting Zionism without restrictions. Two other major parties, the Scottish Party and the Liberal Democratic Party, have also embraced this trend. Therefore, the decision was taken in the House of Commons without a vote, with 30 out of 650 MPs present, with no objection, and therefore without discussion. This might be an indication that the political parties are not divided against Hamas, although they are divided over the two-state solution.
In addition, the decision comes to fill the legal void created by Brexit as the UK has been bound by the European position classifying Hamas on the lists of “terror” since 2003. However, the British decision was harsher given the approaches adopted by the Conservative Party and the immense Zionist influence. Besides, there is the personal dimension associated with the pro-Zionist Home Secretary Priti Patel who was forced to resign as international development secretary in 2017, when she was embroiled in the scandal of holding unauthorized meetings with Israeli leaders.
Doubtless, this decision was contributed to by the environment of Arab and Islamic weakness and fragmentation besides the normalization by some Arab regimes with Israel, which makes the Palestinian resistance exposed to such decisions.
Furthermore, the British decision is characterized by haste, because the UK (which did not designate the Houthis or the Taliban as terrorist movements) is excluding itself, officially and practically, from playing any positive role towards the Palestine issue. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair had previously admitted that his government’s decision to impose an immediate boycott of Hamas after the Islamic faction won Palestinian elections in 2006 was wrong, and his Foreign Secretary Jack Straw also expressed his unhappiness about the boycotting of the movement, thinking rather that the UK ought to be talking to it.
Apparently, the British and the Europeans will have to reconsider their decisions sooner or later. This is suggested by the general course of events, Hamas’s growing clout, and its increasing popularity on the Arab, Islamic and international levels, especially when resistance action and confrontations against the occupation intensify, in addition to the weakness of the official Palestinian leadership, its declining popularity and its loss of trust and credibility.
The Palestine issue is one of the most sensitive issues at the global level, and it is a source of instability in the Arab region. It is the main cause of anger and rebellion of the Arab and Muslim peoples. Therefore, the resistance forces, led by Hamas, are able to impose their agenda in the international environment, at least in the medium term. Consequently, international forces, including the British, will be forced to open channels of communication with the true representatives of the will of the Palestinian people.
The legitimacy of the resistance movements, including Hamas, stems from the normal right and legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for liberation from foreign occupation by all available means, including armed struggle. These movements do not need anyone’s permission and are not deterred by the collusion of international forces with the occupation, which even contributed to its establishment and consolidation, and caused disasters for the Palestinian people. The legitimacy of the resistance stems from its supportive popular environment and the Ummah’s support for it.
However, this does not mean that the resistance forces should not exert their utmost efforts to support any legal paths to overturn the British decision. They must also develop their strong political discourse and activate it in the international environment, mobilize supporters of the Palestine issue, and try to block any attempts to accuse them of “terrorism.” They must take the necessary legal precautions, without affecting the core of the resistance and its escalation against the occupation, and without compromising any of the fundamentals of the Palestine issue.