Mashaal not to seek reelection as Hamas chief

Hamas political bureau head says he will continue to “serve his people, his cause and his movement, as well as causes of the nation.”

January 22, 2012 01:27
2 minute read.
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal [file]

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Al Hams/Handout)

Khaled Mashaal has decided not to seek reelection as the head of the Hamas political bureau, the Islamist organization announced Saturday.

Mashaal, who has been in the job since 1996, told Hamas’s Shura (advisory) Council that he does not plan to present his candidacy for another term, Hamas said in a statement released in Syria.

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Mashaal emphasized that, despite the decision not to run for another term in office, he will continue to “serve his people, his cause and his movement, as well as causes of the nation,” the statement said.

Although Hamas leaders urged Mashaal to reconsider his decision, they expressed their appreciation for his desire and pointed out that this was a public, and not personal, issue that would be looked into by the movement’s institutions, the statement added.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that Mashaal’s decision showed that the movement’s leaders care about their cause more than their positions.

“Khaled Mashaal is a leader,” Barhoum said. “He does not seek a position and his main goal is to defend the Palestinian cause.”

Mashaal’s decision not to seek reelection is seen as a blow to efforts to achieve reconciliation between his movement and the rival Fatah faction.

Sources close to Hamas said that the movement’s leadership in the Gaza Strip was opposed to the rapprochement between Mashaal and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Hamas’s top leaders in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniyeh and Mahmoud Zahar, have also expressed their opposition to Mashaal’s call for a nonviolent, popular intifada against Israel, the sources said.

Abbas and a number of PA officials claimed in recent weeks that Mashaal had agreed to the two-state solution and an end to terrorist attacks on Israel. However, both Haniyeh and Zahar quickly denied the claims, stressing that their movement “remained committed to the armed struggle and the liberation of all Palestine, from the sea to the river.”

No date has been set for electing a replacement for Mashaal. Hundreds of Hamas members are expected to cast their ballots in a secret vote that will take place in the coming weeks or months, a Hamas official in Gaza City said.

The official said that Mashaal’s deputy, Musa Abu Marzouk, and Haniyeh are the leading candidates to take over the job.

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