CAIRO/GAZA, (Xinhua): Hamas’ Shura council, the highest decision-making body of the Islamic Palestinian militant group, decided Monday night in Cairo to grant a new term to its current leader Khaled Meshaal, Egypt’s official news agency MENA reported.
The process of Hamas’ internal elections is nearly secret. Elections are held among people living in the Palestinian territories, then among Hamas supporters and members in Israeli jails and Hamas’ people in exile.
During Monday’s meeting, Meshaal won the leadership of Hamas politburo by acclamation for another term, MENA quoted an official source as saying.
Meshaal, 56, has been leading the political bureau since 1996. Last year, he announced that he would not run for a new term. But sources told Xinhua earlier that Qatar, Egypt and Turkey appealed for Meshaal to stay, saying it is not the proper time for him to step down.
It is also reported that the Shura council’s members, including those from Gaza, had also encouraged Meshaal to retract his intention to quit.
“The decision came over the recommendation of Egypt and Qatar, despite the internal regulations of Hamas politburo, upon which no one can take the office for more than two consecutive rounds,” Abdel Qadder Yasseen, Cairo-based Palestinian political expert, told Xinhua.
Meanwhile, Ahmed Yousef, an aide to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haneya, said Meshaal has a distinctive position within the movement and an important position in the region and earns the respect from many countries, mainly Turkey and Egypt.
The pressure on Meshaal to stay mounted after he made a landmark visit to the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by his own movement, in December 2012.
Early last year, Meshaal abandoned his long-time base in Syria’ s capital of Damascus, avoiding pressure from the Syrian authorities to side himself with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Since then, he has been staying mainly in Qatar’s Doha.