Hamas head Mashaal says he will step down

Hamas head Mashaal says he will step down

Khaled Mashaal, the head of the Hamas, has reaffirmed his decision to relinquish leadership of the group, Hamas officials said yesterday.

“It seems that Abu al-Walid (Mashaal) has taken the decision not to stand again as a candidate for the head of the political bureau of the movement,” a Hamas member in Gaza told Agence France-Presse on condition of anonymity.

“That’s what he told members of the political bureau and the leadership during a meeting in Cairo this month.” The comments confirmed a posting on the official Facebook page of Izzat al-Rishq, another senior Hamas leader in exile.

“During the last meeting of the political bureau of the movement, which included leaders inside and in exile, and as leadership elections approach, brother Khaled Mashaal reiterated his wish not to accept candidacy for the head of the political bureau,” he wrote. A Hamas official in exile acknowledged that Mashaal has faced “difficulties with certain leaders in Gaza,” particularly over the reconciliation process, though he added that “these obstacles will be overcome.”

The movement in January announced its longtime leader-in-exile was ready to step down from his post, but said members were hoping he would reconsider his decision. Mashaal was publicly criticized by Hamas members inside Gaza during his bid to cement a now-stalled reconciliation process between the movement and the rival Fatah movement headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.