Engaging the World: The Making of Hamas’s Foreign Policy

Publisher Afro-Middle East Centre (AMEC)
Published January 28, 2021
Paperback 272 Pages
Language English
ISBN 978-0-9947048-2-5
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The Making of Hamas’s Foreign Policy is the first comprehensive account of how the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, conducts its international relations, its attempts to develop a coherent and dynamic foreign policy, and its leveraging of this foreign policy to strengthen its global legitimacy and credibility. Having grown out of the refugee camps in Gaza, and relying mostly on its support within Palestine and the Palestinian diaspora, the movement was thrust onto the global stage by a series of events imposed on it. Its victory in the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary election, its subsequent demonisation and the imposition of an Israeli and Egyptian siege on Gaza convinced it of the need for a visible and coordinated international outreach.

This book evaluates the principles which guided the movement’s foreign relations, examines their evolution, their successes and failures, and the overall impact of the group’s foreign policy on the Palestinian national movement.

Much has been written about Hamas’s historical origins, its ideology, and some of its leaders. This book fills a void in that literature regarding the movement’s international relations. It is a useful text for academics, policymakers, as well as casual readers interested in the Palestinian struggle and the balance of power between Palestinians and Israel.

“It was with great interest that I went through the well-researched work of Dr Daud Abdullah, which illuminates an essential aspect of Hamas’s evolution, namely its international dimension.”

Prof Celso Amorim, Former Foreign Minister of Brazil

“Daud Abdullah is sympathetic to Hamas and their Muslim Brotherhood origins and therefore his account is sympathetic but not uncritical.
This is a valuable and readable book and I recommend it warmly.”

Clare Short, Former Secretary of State for International Development of the United Kingdom

“This book challenges successfully the common misrepresentation of Hamas in the West. It is a must read for anyone engaged with the Palestine issue and interested in an honest introduction to this important Palestinian movement.”

Prof Ilan Pappé, College of Social Sciences & International Studies, University of Exeter

** Please note that this book was not a collaboration with Hamas. The book examines the actions, statements and policy documents published by Hamas, independent of MEMO Publishers. **

The Making of Hamas Foreign Policy Standing Back

Endorsements for Engaging the World: The Making of Hamas’s Foreign Policy

“Palestine represents one of the great moral and political causes of our time, it unites people everywhere.” This undeniable truth is reiterated in the final chapter of this comprehensive study on ‘the making of Hamas’s foreign policy’. In my period as foreign minister – during the government of President Lula, Brazil was deeply involved in the struggle for a fair and peaceful solution to the conflict in the Middle East.

One of our last decisions in the field of foreign policy was the recognition of Palestine as an independent and sovereign state. This bold step unchained a series of similar moves in Latin America, and beyond in the Global South, helping in the overall movement towards the resolution by the UN General Assembly. During that period, in our private conversations, President Lula and I strongly argued in favour of a broad and non-discriminatory inter-Palestinian dialogue. Our representative to Ramallah visited Gaza and had discussions with Hamas authorities there.

It was with great interest that I went through Dr Daud Abdullah’s well-researched work, which illuminates an essential aspect of “Hamas’s” evolution: its international dimension. As a firm supporter of Palestinian rights and a defender of a solution through peaceful means, I was very much encouraged by the author’s concluding words to the effect that through the intensification of diplomatic efforts and global alliances, “Hamas can play a pivotal role in the restoration of Palestinian rights”.

Celso Amorim
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil, under President Lula da Silva

This book challenges successfully the common misrepresentation of Hamas in the west. It is a must read for anyone engaged with the Palestine issue, and interested in an honest introduction to this important Palestinian movement. This book is also a crucial contribution for a better understanding of the relationship between the west and political Islam in general. The history, aims and vision of the movement have not before been explained in such a lucid and professional way.

Ilan Pappé
Author and professor at the College of Social Sciences and International Studies, University of Exeter

A must-read study of a foremost political movement in Palestine, this is the most comprehensive account of Hamas’s international relations to date. Meticulously documenting the achievements and shortcomings of Hamas, the book shows how a pragmatic and highly dynamic non-state actor, rooted in the realities of Palestinians under occupation, can transform itself into a regional actor which seeks to project power on the global stage.

Prof Nur Masalha
Editor, Journal of Holy Land and Palestine Studies, SOAS, University of London

Dr Daud Abdullah’s Engaging the World: The making of Hamas’s foreign policy is a rare and honest probe of the Palestinian resistance movement’s political maturity and growth, despite countless obstacles. While the discussion on Hamas in mainstream media and academia have centred largely on its Islamic origins and character, and have somewhat reduced the movement to a confining, stifling discussion on ‘terrorism’ and ‘suicide bombings’, Engaging the World dismantles and reconstructs the old discourses to present an entirely refreshed analytical realm. The book delves into Hamas’s internal dynamics, continual diplomacy, and attempts to break away from its Israel-led isolation. Equally important, Abdullah’s book offers a new and crucial case study of Palestinian politics in the modern era amid tumultuous and vastly changing regional and international powerplays resulting from ongoing revolts and wars. A truly riveting and revealing account. A must read.

Ramzy Baroud
Editor of Palestine Chronicle; Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at Afro-Middle East Centre and Centre for Islam and Global Affairs

This is a major undertaking, studying the ways by which Hamas conducted its foreign relations from the early 1990s to the present. Throughout the past three decades, Hamas has received great attention from scholars of modern Islam and the Middle East. Although it has emerged as a highly influential Islamic movement and partner in deciding the course of the Palestinian problem, no other study was dedicated to understanding Hamas’s foreign policy. Here, Daud Abdullah steps in to fill this lacuna with an extensive coverage of the regional and international dynamics shaping the longest conflict in the modern world, and provides profound insight into the impact of these dynamics on Hamas and its role in Palestine. This work is an invaluable addition to the fields of political Islam, the Middle East, and Palestine studies.

Dr Bashir Nafi
Research Fellow at Al Jazeera Centre for Studies

About the Author


Dr Daud Abdullah

Daud Abdullah is a well-known British academic, and political and social commentator. He writes and lectures on issues relating to Middle Eastern and British politics, Islam, and Muslim-Western relations. Dr Abdullah received his BA in history from the University of Guyana in 1981 before completing a PhD in History at the University of Khartoum in...

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