To 'serve in other ways.' Mashaal
Photo: AFP

Hamas: Leader Mashaal won't seek new term

In official statement, terror group says Damascus-based chief announced decision during recent Shura Council meeting; sources say PM Haniyeh, Abu Marzouk to face off in elections for new politburo chief

Hamas Politburo Chief Khaled Mashaal won't seek re-election, said the Palestinian Islamic terror group in a statement Saturday.


According to the official statement, Mashaal, who has served as politburo chief for the past 16 years, announced his decision during a recent Shura Council meeting and said he would continue serving the terror group and the Palestinian people in other ways.


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The Shura Council reportedly met in Sudan during Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh's visit there.


The move opens the group to a leadership struggle, as it is not immediately clear who could succeed the charismatic, widely respected Mashaal (56).


It contributes to political turbulence within Hamas, which has recently faced a slew of criticism for continuing to be based in Damascus as the Syrian government violently cracks down on demonstrators throughout the country.


In the statement from Hamas' official e-mail account, the Palestinian group urged him to reconsider his decision, saying the issue of who leads the decades-old terrorist movement should be left to Hamas. The group says the decision shouldn't be made by one person — even its leader.


משעל ואבו מאזן. פרגמטיזם שהוביל לביקורת (צילום: רויטרס)

PA leader Abbas (L) with Haniyeh (Photo: Reuters)


"The movement urges (Mashaal) to reconsider, and to leave this issue to the Shura Council, with full respect to his wishes (not to run again), considering this is a public matter that the Hamas institutions should decide, and not an individual person," the statement said. The Shura Council is the top-level body in Hamas that elects its leadership.


It is not clear when new elections might be held, but Palestinian sources say Haniyeh is considering running for Hamas politburo chief. The sources told Italian news agency AKI that Haniyeh's visits to Sudan, Egypt, Tunis and Turkey over the past month were aimed at raising his profile among leaders in the region ahead of elections in Hamas.


According to the sources, Haniyeh will run against Mahaal's deputy, Moussa Abu Marzouk.


Mashaal, who is based in Damascus, was not immediately available for comment.


Senior Hamas official Ezzat Risheq confirmed the statement from his Damascus office. He too, urged Mashaal to reconsider.


Hamas is committed to Israel's destruction and has killed hundreds of Israelis in terror attacks that have included shootings and suicide bombings.


Since 2006 the group has ruled the Gaza Strip, a sliver of territory wedged between Egypt's Sinai desert and Israel. It is also a rival of the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority which rules the West Bank, a territory that flanks the other side of Israel.


Hamas' leadership is based in Damascus for their security. Mashaal's two predecessors — Abdel-Aziz al-Rantisi and the elderly Sheik Ahmed Yassin — were both assassinated by Israel.


In 1997 Israel attempted to assassinate Mashaal in Jordan. Two Mossad agents injected a lethal nerve toxin into his ear, but after they were caught Israel was forced to turn over the antidote for the nerve toxin.




פרסום ראשון: 01.21.12, 11:55
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