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Hamas chief says to step down next year

Khaled Meshaal, 60, was elected the head of Hamas’ political bureau in 1996
Khaled-Meshaal
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal [file photo]

Hamas political chief Khaled Meshaal said he will not run for re-election as the head of the Palestinian group next year.

“Khaled Meshaal will be the former head of Hamas’ political bureau next year,” he said during a speech in the Qatari capital Doha on Saturday.

Originally based in Jordan, Meshaal relocated to Syria in 1999. He moved from the war-torn country in 2012, and has lived in Qatar for the past four years.

Media reports earlier said that Hamas deputy leader Ismail Haniyeh plans to vie for the presidency of Hamas political bureau in upcoming internal polls to succeed Meshaal.

“Hamas’ internal elections will be held next year and a new head of Hamas’ political bureau will be elected,” Meshaal said.

Mistake

Meanwhile, Meshaal said that Hamas has made a mistake by ruling the Gaza Strip by itself.

“We were mistaken when we thought that the era of [Palestinian group] Fatah has gone and that Hamas time has come,” he said.

“Fatah has also made a mistake when it tried to marginalise us,” Meshaal said.

Hamas has seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 after deadly infighting between the two rival groups. Shortly after capturing the territory, Israel tightened a crippling siege on the Gaza Strip, badly affecting livelihood in the seaside enclave.

Asked about Hamas’ relationship with Iran, Meshaal said his group manages its relations with Tehran “within the framework of striking a balance between necessities and principles”.

Meshaal admitted that Hamas has lost much support “because it has sided with the peoples”.

“Hamas is a resistance group and needs every piece of weaponry. However, it still sides with its nation and does not abandon its position even if the group is denied weapons,” he said.

Hamas’ relations with Egypt and Syria have badly been affected following the Arab Spring revolutions – which swept the Arab region in 2011.

Meshaal described the Syria people as “hero”, who was “a victim of an unprecedented international collusion”.

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