Hamas elects former chief Meshaal to head its foreign political bureau

Gaza City (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) –


The Palestinian Islamist Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza Strip, announced Monday its former chief Khaled Meshaal was elected head of its foreign policy bureau.

Meshaal, 64, lives in exile in Qatar and survived an assassination bid in 1997 when agents from Israel's secret service Mossad posing as Canadian tourists injected him with a mysterious poison in Jordan.

Jordan arrested two of the attackers and the late King Hussein demanded Israel hand over an antidote if it wanted its agents back, with the Jewish state complying with the demand.

Hamas recently launched internal elections that have so far led to the re-election last month of Yahya Sinwar as head of its political wing in Gaza, the impoverished enclave of two million Palestinians.

A statement from the militant movement said Meshaal, a 64-year-old who led Hamas between 1996 to 2017, was elected "head of the movement's foreign political bureau".

The leadership of Hamas, considered a terrorist organisation by many Western states, was due to hold internal elections for its general head in the coming months.

Incumbent Ismail Haniyeh, who is also now based in Qatar, is expected to run against his deputy Jamal al-Aruri.

Meshaal's election comes ahead of legislative polls on May 22 and a presidential election on July 31, the first Palestinian elections in 15 years.

Hamas has fought three wars with Israel since 2008.