Hamas chief Mashaal to step down at end of term

Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal (tehrantimes.com)

JERUSALEM (JWN and agencies)—Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal will follow the terrorist organization’s bylaws and step down at the end of his second term, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency quoted Hamas sources as saying on Monday.

The change in power will follow an upcoming election in the next few months to determine his successor. In an online article widely quoted in the Arab press Tuesday morning, Hamas analyst Mustafa Lidawi wrote that Mashaal would be letting the next generation run for the leadership and steer the movement’s policy.

Mashaal was elected head of Hamas’s political bureau in 1997 to replace Dr. Mousa Abu Marzook, after he was arrested. Shortly afterward Mashaal was the target of a botched assassination attempt by Mossad agents in Jordan.

He was poisoned, but his life was saved when Israel traded the antidote for the two Mossad agents caught by Jordan during the assassination attempt.

Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by much of the international community and its charter calls for the destruction of Israel. Nevertheless, the Palestinian Authority is engaged in trying to establish a unity government with it, even though Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip from the PA in a violent coup in 2007.

A top Hamas official told the Ma’an news agency on Tuesday that the talks were being “undermined by low confidence between the parties.” The official also accused Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of being distracted from the Palestinian unity talks by talks with Israel.