Sources: Egypt Pressured Meshal to Stay on as Hamas Leader

Khaled Meshal re-elected for four more years as political leader, Hamas confirms; the Palestinian group that runs Gaza faces issues such as a possible reconciliation with Fatah and its relationship with Egypt.

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Hamas' main decision-making body has reinstated Khaled Meshal as political leader for another four years, the group confirmed on Tuesday.

Meshal's deputy, Moussa Abu Marzouk, and the Hamas chief in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, chose not to run, sources in Cairo added.

According to Hamas sources, the Egyptians and senior Hamas officials had pressured Meshal to stay on because the election of a new leader would cause internal strife. This in turn would delay measures linked to Egypt's ties with Gaza and a reconciliation with Fatah.

Hamas said in a statement that Monday's decision by the Shura Council ensured that the group's people in Gaza, the West Bank and abroad were fairly represented.

Hamas' relationship with the Egyptian army is key amid reports that senior members of Hamas' military wing in Gaza took part in the attack on an Egyptian border post last August.

Other issues include smuggling and the tunnel traffic on the Egyptian border, regulation of the border crossings, and a tighter relationship with Qatar and Jordan. And the organization must regroup in a sense after Meshal left Damascus for Qatar last year during Syria's civil war.

Meshal, 57, has headed Hamas since March 2004 following the assassinations of the organization's founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, and his successor, Abdel Aziz Rantisi.

Differences of opinion and power struggles between Hamas' political wing and its military wing – headed by Ahmed Jabari before his assassination in November – have also been an issue, especially during the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006.

Hamas chief Khaled Meshal waves to Palestinian student during his visit to the Islamic University in Gaza City December 9, 2012.Credit: Reuters

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