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Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal to resign

Khaled Mashaal, the leader of the Palestinian Islamic group Hamas, says he will be stepping down, according to two senior officials cited by the Associated Press.

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Exiled Palestinian Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal addresses a meeting in Cairo with some 40 Palestinian prisoners who were freed by Israel but were to be deported overseas in October. (-/AFP/Getty Images)

Khaled Mashaal, the leader of the Palestinian Islamic group Hamas, says he will be stepping down, according to two senior officials, clearing the way for Hamas to choose a new head for the first time in over 15 years.

The Associated Press reported Mashaal made the announcement at a recent Hamas leadership meeting in Cairo that he would not be running in the upcoming elections.

Izzat Risheq and Mashaal's deputy Moussa Abu Marzouk confirmed the report, the AP said.

Hamas officials said Mashaal is set to continue on until his successor is chosen, likely by the end of the year.

As GlobalPost reported "Meshaal has been at the helm of Hamas for 16 years and has been its political leader since 2004 when Israel assassinated its founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, and its leader, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, in an air strike."

More from GlobalPost: Hamas: Shifting alliances in the Arab Spring?

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/israel-and-palestine/120924/hamas-leader-khaled-mashaal-resign