The head of Hamas, Khaled Mashaal, has decided not to run for reelection, stepping away from leadership for the time being. Although Mashaal insists this has nothing to do with alleged disagreement between him and other Hamas leaders, the rumors are still swirling out there. JPost reports:
Earlier this year, Mashaal angered Hamas’s Gaza-based leadership by agreeing that its main rival, the Fatah movement of Western-backed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, could lead any future unity government.
Mashaal claimed that he enjoys “a great deal of support” among Hamas leaders in the strip and downplayed reported strains between himself and Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister in Gaza, calling the rumors “inaccurate.”
Mashaal has served within Hamas since 1996, and although a replacement has not yet been chosen, it is likely the terrorist group will choose a leader who, like Mashaal, lives in exile – for personal security reasons.