Party officials revealed Monday that Khaled Mashaal was re-elected to his position as chairman of the Palestinian movement’s Political Bureau.
The vote was held in secret at a hotel in Cairo, Egypt. Party officials speaking on the condition of anonymity with Arab media stated that Mashaal has given Hamas a national face following the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011 and maintains good relations through the Middle East.
There was speculation that Khaled Mashaal would be moved aside to make room for a leader who still lives in the Gaza Strip. Mashaal has been exiled from the region for nearly 40 years. Since Hamas was founded, Mashaal has lived in Kuwait, Jordan, Qatar, and Syria.
Mashaal had previously announced that he had no intentions of seeking re-election. It was reported that he was interested in becoming the president of the Palestine Liberation Organization, a position currently held by Mahmoud Abbas.
This will be Mashaal’s fourth term as Chairman of Hamas’s Political Bureau. He rose to the position in 2004 after Israel assassinated both Hamas’s founding leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and his successor Abdelaziz Al Rantissi in the Gaza Strip.
Mashaal is also the survivor of an assassination attempt. In 1997, the Israeli Mossad attempted to poison Mashaal in Jordan under the orders of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu served as Israel’s Prime Minister from 1996 to 1999, then returned in 2009 and was re-elected to his third term earlier this year.
The attack left Mashaal in a coma. Jordan authorities captured two of the assassins and demanded that Israel hand over the antidote if they wanted to see their captives freed. The incident ultimately compelled Israel to release 20 people from prison.
Khaled Mashaal visited the Gaza Strip in December in order to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of Hamas. Mashaal will continue to lead Hamas’ Political Bureau from abroad for the foreseeable future.