For years, Hamas was lambasted by leading Arab voices as a terrorist group that worked against Palestinian interests. And then October 7 happened.
Since Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, the organization has become “the group that cannot be named.” Indeed, in none of their original comments on the attack—even by those that condemned the targeting of civilians—did any Arab state specifically cite Hamas. (Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates later revised their original statements to condemn Hamas by name.) At the Cairo Peace Summit, held two weeks after the attack,not a single Arab leader mentioned Hamas; moreover, Hamas was not named in either the nine-nation Arab statement on the Gaza conflict issued on October 26 or the Jordan-proposed UN General Assembly resolution approved on October 27.
This was not always the case. As the following list of select citations shows, in recent years senior Arab officials, public figures, and prominent journalists have frequently attacked Hamas.
—Robert Satloff, Segal Executive Director, The Washington Institute
“[Hamas is] extremist and terrorist.” —Adel al-Jubeir, minister of state for foreign affairs, Watan, February 24, 2018
“Hamas has been a terrorist movement for decades, and it has been directing its terrorism against the Palestinians and the Arab countries, even before carrying out terror operations under the pretext of ‘liberating Palestine’ or things like that...Hamas is...a murderous terrorist organization.” —Abdullah bin Bijad (journalist), MBC TV, November 26, 2021, posted by Middle East Media Research Institute
“[Gaza] is occupied by Hamas. And the Palestinian people in Gaza are suffering because of Hamas, not the Israelis...What the public doesn’t understand is who is behind so much of the media they read—who is funding this misguided narrative, which only serves to protect Hamas, and ultimately, Iran...Hamas and the Palestinian leadership have hijacked the minds of 2 million Palestinians to sell their political and terrorist agendas.” —Dr. Ali al-Nuaimi, Newsweek, June 7, 2021
“Hamas’s solidarity with the Iranian government does not take into consideration the Gulf and Arab anxiety over Tehran’s regional interference. It is unnecessary. It pushes the Palestinian issue into a maze and confirms the opinion that the movement, in its orientation, is nothing more than an Iranian regional tool.”—Anwar Gargash, minister of state for foreign affairs, Twitter, November 6, 2018
“[W]hat Hamas has done behind the back of Fatah, the PA, and President Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] has greatly harmed the Palestinian cause.” —Saleh al-Qallab, former minister of information, Elaph, May 12, 2021
“It is in no way accurate or correct to call Hamas a national liberation movement...Can the claim that Hamas is a national liberation movement and is not affiliated with any of the axes and blocs in the region be believed when it displays such devotion to Iran, rivaled only by the devotion of the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Iraqi PMU [Popular Mobilization Units]?...If Hamas is really a national liberation movement, why did it follow the directives, or even the orders, of Qatar, of Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, and of the Muslim Brotherhood [leaders] in Turkey?”—Saleh al-Qallab, Asharq al-Awsat, December 5, 2018
“I request striking the terrorist camps inside Gaza because terrorism always originates from within it. It is the responsibility of the Arab countries to take action to reject the involvement of Hamas in the assassination of Deputy Barakat through training conducted within Gaza aimed at assassinating him.” —Ahmed Moussa (journalist, TV presenter), al-Watan Voice, March 6, 2016