Hamas official: Mashaal to retire by end of the month

Islamists’ political chief to arrive in Gaza for first time this weekend

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Khaled Mashaal (photo credit: AP/Amine Landoulsi)
Khaled Mashaal (photo credit: AP/Amine Landoulsi)

Hamas’s political chief will be replaced by the end of the month, a political official in the movement announced on Monday.

Khaled Mashaal is to visit Gaza for the first time later this week to participate in Hamas’s 25-year anniversary celebrations. Recent reports claimed that pressure was exerted on Mashaal by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood to remain in office for a fifth term, but a Hamas official, Salah Bardawil, told the London-based daily Al-Quds al-Arabi that Mashaal’s replacement will be chosen before the end of the month.

Bardawil said that, despite retiring from the top position at the movement’s political bureau, Khaled Mashaal “will be prepared to fill any task required of him by the new leadership.”

Mashaal’s deputy, Moussa Abu Marzouq, and Gazan prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, are the top two contenders to replace him.

When asked whether the movement’s new leadership will be announced during the anniversary celebrations this weekend, Bardawil said, “There’s no time for that.”

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