Multiple pressure, regional situation lead to Meshaal's re-election as Hamas leader

Current Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal was granted a new term in office due to foreign and internal pressure as well as the regional situation, analysts said. Hamas' Shura council, the highest decision-making body of the Palestinian militant group, decided Monday night in Cairo to grant a new term to its current leader Meshaal.

"Meshaal won the leadership of Hamas politburo by acclamation for another term," the official MENA news agency quoted an official source as saying.

Prior to Monday's vote, there had been speculation that the exiled leader would be forced aside by the movement's powerful leaders in the Gaza Strip, which it has controlled since 2007.

Meshaal himself said last year that he would not seek a new term. The decision was partly a result of the recommendation of Egypt and Qatar, despite the internal regulations of Hamas politburo, upon which no one can take the office for more than two consecutive terms, Abdel Qadder Yasseen, Palestinian political expert in Cairo, told Xinhua.

"Winning by acclamation reflects the absence of democracy and breaking the rules of Hamas itself," Yasseen added. Meanwhile, Ibrahim el-Darawy, head of the Palestinian Center for political studies in Cairo, said all the leaders of the Palestinian movements were staying in office till death or martyrdom, but Hamas wanted to present a democratic example by setting an internal regulation during its last round, upon which no one will run to leadership for more than two consecutive rounds.

Meshaal has been leading the political bureau of Hamas since 1996, but the Shura council did not count the years for Meshaal before approving the recent international regulations. So his re-election this time would be the second term for Meshaal, and he could not be elected for the coming round, Darawy added.

Meshaal himself expressed several months ago that he would not seek a new term in office so as to generate new youth blood in the movement, he added.

"The winning of Meshaal was predicted for pressures either from Qatar, Turkey and Egypt, or from the interior of Hamas, its political bureau and Shura council in particular," Darawy added.

He argued the regional situation of Arab upheavals, besides Hamas' getting out of Syria which was hosting the political bureau for the movement, made it dangerous for Hamas which did not have a permanent headquarters, and pushed its members not to make changes in its leadership, so as not to affect the political approach of Hamas and its foreign relations.

Early last year, Meshaal abandoned his long-time base in Syria's capital of Damascus, avoiding pressure from the Syrian authorities to side himself with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Since then, he has been staying mainly in Qatar's Doha.

Reelection of Meshaal asserted the cohesion of Hamas, Darawy said, adding "Hamas leaders either inside Palestine or abroad approved the same leader for Hamas."

Meshaal is the best man for the current stage, because he is accepted by the left and the right side of Palestine, Arab and Islamic world as well as some European players.

Yasseen called the winning of Meshaal as "regional solutions for the Palestinian cause, where Israel won't count the Palestinian authority in the game."

Meanwhile Darawy predicted a long term for the peace process even if Israel recognized Palestine as a state upon the border of 1967, otherwise Hamas would continue adopting armed resistance.