The London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Hayat reported Saturday that Hamas Politburo Chief Khaled Mashaal and other senior Hamas members will soon relocate their headquarters to the Persian Gulf emirate of Qatar.
According to the report, Qatar agreed to "permanently host" the Politburo, but refused to grant Hamas' top military echelon the same privilege. A top Hamas official, however, denied the reports.
Palestinian sources told the newspaper that the planned move to Doha came after Egypt and Jordan denied a similar request. Nevertheless, Egypt has agreed to host a Hamas "interest bureau," which Deputy Politburo Chief Mousa Abu Marzouk is likely to head.
Hamas' military leaders who are currently based in Damascus are slated to move to Gaza Strip, the paper said. The information could not be independently corroborated.
The Hamas official told Israel Radio that the group's leadership has not intentions of leaving the Syrian capital, and denied reports that Egypt had agreed to open an official Hamas office in Cairo.
Hamas leadership based its headquarters in Syria over a decade ago, after Jordan forced it out in 1999. Joining it there were Secretary General of the Islamic Jihad Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, Secretary General of the Popular Front, General Command Ahmad Jibril, Secretary General of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine Nayef Hawatmeh and the heads of six other groups.
The issue of the Damascus terror hub, and especially Hamas presence in Syria, has been one of the main obstacles in the Israeli-Syrian peace process.
Al-Hayat did not list the reasons for Hamas' relocation, but hedged that it was linked with the popular uprising sweeping through Syria, which is threatening the stability of President Bashar Assad's regime; as well as the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation.
The London-based newspaper also reported that Ahmed Jabari, head of Hamas' military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, met with Egyptian Intelligence Minister Murad Muwafi.
This was the first meeting between the two. Palestinian sources said it is likely Egypt is seeking to reassert its position as a key player in the negotiation meant to secure the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. This information could not be independently corroborated, either.
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