Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal 370.
(photo credit: Screenshot CNN)
GAZA - The Islamist Palestinian Hamas group re-elected the relatively pragmatic Khaled Mashaal as its leader on Tuesday despite past criticism of him by hardliners in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
A diplomat in the region said Egypt and Qatar had lobbied strongly on behalf of a reluctant Mashaal before the vote in Cairo by about 60 Hamas leaders who had met through the night.
Mashaal, 56, has headed the movement that controls the Palestinian territory of Gaza and rejects Israel, since 2004. He has gained a more moderate image since helping to achieve a delicate truce with Israel last year, and building ties with Gaza's other neighbor, Egypt.
The party's governing shura council held a vote in Cairo on Monday.
According to media reports earlier this year Mashaal did not intend to run for re-election for the chairman position because he was eying the presidency of the PLO
, currently chaired by Mahmoud Abbas.
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh traveled to Cairo on Saturday
to discuss complaints the movement has regarding Israel's compliance with the truce brokered by Egypt following Operation Pillar of Defense, AFP reported.
According to the report, the Hamas administration's spokesman Taher al-Nunu said Haniyeh would be discussing "Israeli violations of the truce."