Hamas’s political leader Khaled Mashaal, who was expected to retire ahead of the upcoming elections for the Palestinian Islamic movement’s leadership, may yet contend for a fifth term in office, a leading Arab daily reported Sunday.
An unnamed senior Palestinian source told the London-based daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat that “an internal crisis” within Hamas has resulted in the postponement of the elections to late November or early December.
Hamas features a two-pronged leadership, with Ismail Haniyeh serving as head of the movement’s government in Gaza and Mashaal heading the political office, formerly based in Damascus.
Hamas shut its Syria offices in early 2012 and its leaders are dispersed in Egypt, Qatar and Gaza. Mashaal is currently based in the Qatari capital of Doha.
There is no candidacy for the position of Hamas political chief, and the matter is decided by the Brotherhood’s Shura Council, the movement’s highest consultative body
A-Sharq Al-Awsat’s source added that Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood General Guide Mohammed Badie has weighed in in favor of Mashaal’s remaining in office. Badie has reportedly asked Mashaal to refrain from commenting on the question of his candidacy, since any such comments would harm Mashaal and the Muslim Brotherhood at large.
According to Badie, there is no candidacy for the position of Hamas political chief, and the matter is decided by the Brotherhood’s Shura Council, the movement’s highest consultative body based in Cairo. Hamas is considered the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Badie reportedly sent a Muslim Brotherhood delegation to Gaza, headed by Nizar Awadhallah, who mediated the prisoner swap for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit last year. The Egyptian delegation reportedly told the Gazans that “Haniyeh is not up to [the position] of [political] bureau chief,” while Mousa Abu-Marzouq, Mashaal’s deputy and a leading candidate for the position, “is controversial.”
The source claimed the Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, asked Haniyeh to leave Mashaal in office during his historic visit to Gaza on October 23.
Mashaal has served as Hamas’s political chief since 1996.