Two Hamas officials say the Palestinian Islamic group has re-elected Khaled Meshaal as its leader for the fourth time.
Mashaal, 56, who has run the Palestinian movement since 1996 from exile, was widely seen as a favorite.
He is backed by regional powers Qatar, Turkey and Egypt. He is now based in Qatar.
The officials said the majority of the group’s Shura council members voted for Meshaal. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the secret procedure.
There had been speculation that Meshaal, who is based in exile, would be forced aside by the movement’s powerful leaders in the Gaza Strip, which it has controlled since 2007. Meshaal himself had said last year that he would not seek a new term.
But Hamas officials had hinted that Meshaal would continue leading the Palestinian group.
“The movement’s leaders have decided to renew Meshaal’s term for four years,” a high-ranking Hamas official told AFP on condition of anonymity ahead of the vote.
Hamas officials were in Cairo on Sunday and Monday for the vote, and to discuss with Egyptian leaders reconciliation with the rival Fatah faction of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.
After 37 years in exile from Palestine, it was only last December that Meshaal made his first ever visit to Gaza.
He was propelled to the movement’s leadership in 2004 after Israel assassinated the movement’s founding leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and his successor Abdelaziz al-Rantissi in the Gaza Strip.
Meshaal himself survived an Israeli assassination attempt in Jordan in 1997 when agents of the Mossad secret service disguised as Canadian tourists bungled an attempt to poison him on a street in Amman.
(AFP, AP, Al-Akhbar)
BEIRUT — The Hamas Movement categorically denied some news reports claiming that the head of its political bureau, Khaled Mashaal, had asked the Jordanian monarch to tell the US administration that Hamas accepts the two-state solution with Israel.
“We, in Hamas, affirm that such allegations are untrue,” its information office stated in a press release.
It added that during his meeting last Monday with king Abdullah in Amman Mashaal did not table at all the issue of the two-state solution.
According to the press release, Mashaal discussed with the Jordanian king the Palestinian situation in general as well as the national reconciliation and the events in the region.
Mashaal also reiterated his Movement’s keenness on Palestinian unity and its refusal of all plans about the alternative homeland.
A senior Hamas official has confirmed that the group’s leader, Khaled Mashaal, will not be seeking re-election. Mashaal will, however, remain a member of the Islamist party.
Mashaal, who has led Hamas from various Arab capitals since 1996, told a meeting of senior officials in Cairo last week that he had no desire to remain its chief and that his decision not to run in the election was final, a diplomatic source told the Jerusalem Post earlier Sunday.
“When Mashaal said he was not seeking re-election, a message was sent to him from the movement’s leaders, unanimously asking him to change his mind,” senior Hamas official Salal Bardawil told Ma’an news agency.
The diplomatic source told the Jerusalem Post that Mashaal was tired of policy changes from the group’s leadership.
“Mashaal has grown impatient with some of his Gaza officials who recently tried to undermine decisions he took on behalf of the group,” the source said.
The leader angered Hamas’ leadership earlier this year when he agreed that its main rival, the Fatah movement, could lead any future unity government.
Mashaal has made no public comment on his future leadership or on the Cairo meeting.
The announcement comes after reports earlier this year that Mashaal will not seek re-election.
Khaled Mahaal has been the head of Hamas’s political bureau since 1996, after his predecessor, Mousa Abu Marzook, was arrested in the United States and imprisoned there for two years on suspicion of terrorism.
Mashaal was known as a vocal critic of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, often refusing to follow directives issued by the PA regarding ceasefires with Israel.
In 1997, the Hamas leader became the target of an assassination attempt by the Israeli intelligence service. Mossad agents posing as Canadian tourists injected him with poison on a street in Amman, Jordan. They were later captured by Jordanian authorities. Jordanian King Hussein demanded that Israel hand over the antidote to save Mashaal, who was in a coma. Under growing political pressure and with US President Bill Clinton’s intervention, Israel did so, and its agents were released.
In 1999, Mashaal was expelled from Jordan, with authorities accusing him of illegal activities. He later moved to Damascus, where he stayed until the Syrian civil war intensified, forcing him to move to Qatar.
The date of the election of the next Hamas leader remains secret. Ismail Haniyeh, the group’s leader in the Gaza Strip, and Moussa Abu Marzouk, who headed Hamas in the early 1990s, were the top candidates to replace Mashaal, a source told Reuters.
GAZA CITY – Hamas politburo chief Khalid Mashaal on Monday said Israel had broken its promises to improve detainees’ conditions under the last swap deal.
Speaking to reporters after meeting the Egyptian foreign minister in Cairo, Mashaal said the October 2011 deal –which was brokered by Egypt — included pledges to end solitary confinement and other restrictions.
Israel had toughened conditions for Palestinian detainees in a bid to pressure Hamas to release soldier Gilad Shalit. He was freed in October in exchange for 1,047 Palestinian prisoners.
Palestinian detainees launched a mass hunger-strike on April 17 to protest their conditions, with prisoner groups estimating that 2,000 people are now refusing food.
After meeting Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi on Sunday, the leaders decided to petition the UN on the issue of Palestinian and Arab prisoners in Israel.
On Monday, Mashaal briefed Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammad Kamel Amr on the situation of Palestinian prisoners.
He thanked Egypt for following up on Palestinian affairs, and stressed the importance of seeing through the Egyptian-brokered reconciliation deal with rival party Fatah.
The national government headed by President Mahmoud Abbas — as agreed between the leaders in Doha in February — must be put into place immediately, he said.
The Hamas chief’s agreement that the Fatah leader should head the government caused uproar in Hamas ranks, sparking a new impasse for the embattled reconciliation deal.
- Mishaal discusses prisoners issue with Al Arabi | #PalHunger (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- Ex-Palestinian prisoner: captivity in Israel, living in graves (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Netanyahu: Abbas must choose between Hamas and peace (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Resheq: Hamas launches broad international campaign to support prisoners’ issue | #PalHunger (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)