Palestinians Abroad’ gathering, backed by Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood, aims to unite Palestinian diaspora for return
February 23, 2017,
Despite the recent thawing of ties between Israel and Turkey, Istanbul is set to play host this weekend to a well-attended conference whose speakers and organizers are either affiliated with Hamas or once held senior posts in the Palestinian terror group.
The Conference for Palestinians Abroad is named for the group organizing the event. It has faced vociferous criticism from the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority and Palestine Liberation Organization, who accuse the organizers of undermining the PLO’s position as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
Hamas’s military wing is one of the bodies publicizing the event, slated for Saturday and Sunday, which is also hosting among its speakers members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
One of the leaders of the organizing group is Issam Moustafa Youssef, who the US Treasury Department has said was the head of Hamas’s political bureau at least until mid-2008.
Yousef, originally from Nablus in the northern West Bank, is currently a leader in the Interpal group, named a terror group by the US in 2003.
The event’s website presents a map of Israel with arrows pointing at the country and the caption “Our national plan — the path of our return.”
Other speakers include Majed a-Zir, who has been described in Egyptian media as “the regional director of Hamas in Europe.” He is officially a member of the “Palestinian Return Centre” in London, which Israel, at least, considers an illegal group.
Also on the list of speakers are media personalities such as Qatar-based Al-Jazeera anchor Jamal Rayyan and columnist Bashir Nafi, as well as Zaher Birawi, Rowan a-Damen, Ziad Aloul and others.
Hamas has held similar events not just in Turkey, but throughout Africa and Latin America. It uses the Muslim Brotherhood organizational infrastructures in those countries to organize the events, connect to activists, raise funds and engage in public relations worldwide.