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