Khaled Mashaal was re-elected on Monday as the political chief of Hamas, Arab media outlets reported, citing sources within the Islamist group. The report has not been confirmed.
If the report is true, Mashaal would be beginning his fourth term as the head of Hamas' politburo, despite saying numerous times over the past year that he would not seek re-election. Past reports said Mashaal would seek a more prestigious position within Hamas or even be appointed head of the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
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Mashaal, who lives in exile, arrived in Egypt on Saturday along with Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh and other leaders of the Islamist terror group. Hamas spokesman Taher al-Nunu said that while in Cairo Haniyeh would be discussing "Israeli violations of the truce" agreement between Israel and Hamas, which ended eight days of deadly violence in and around the Gaza Strip last November.
Last week, Hamas complained to Egypt that Israel was not keeping its end of the bargain.
Despite the reports coming out of Cairo over the past few days, Hamas' spokesmen continue to claim that the group's leaders and its Shura Council did not gather in Cairo to elect a politburo chief.
Although it appears that Hamas' leaders have in fact convened to elect a political leader, it remains unclear whether the elections have already taken place.
Al-Nunu said that the Gaza premier would also be discussing "the problem of (Palestinian) prisoners (held by Israel) and Hamas-Egypt relations."
The spokesman noted that the visit was also meant to ease tensions between Egypt and Hamas following Cairo's decision to flood smuggling tunnels under the border with Gaza in a campaign to shut them down.
Additionally, AFP cited Hamas sources as saying that Haniyeh intends to "clear the air" following Egyptian allegations of Hamas involvement in a border attack that left 15 Egyptian soldiers dead in the Sinai Peninsula last year.
You can contact Elior Levy, Ynet's Palestinian Affairs Correspondent, at: email@example.com
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