Mashaal

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Certainly Khaled Mashaal would not have been the most militant or anti-Israel of candidates for the leadership of Hamas, but this is precisely the problem for the Netanyahu government. Mashaal is a pragmatist who enjoys broad international support. He could make it more difficult for Israel to continue to block the path to a ‘two-state solution’. Moreover, he is well placed to build a unity government with his Palestinian rivals in Fatah.

His choice of Qatar as a base for operations is curious! Qatar has emerged as the avenue through which troops and guns are being channeled into Syria to aid the rebellion! Mashaal’s support for the Syrian rebels is well known, but such support compromises his relationship with regional super-power Iran, and one might have expected him to be a little more covert in his loyalties.

Father Dave

Khaled Meshaal

Khaled Meshaal

source: www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/01/palestine-hamas-khaled-mashaal-election…

Hamas re-elects Khaled Mashaal

Qatar-based Palestinian leader wins four-year term capping a year of internal elections spread over several countries

The Islamic militant group Hamas on Monday re-elected longtime leader Khaled Mashaal, according to officials, choosing a relative pragmatist who has sparred with movement hardliners in the past over his attempt to reconcile with western-backed Palestinian rivals.

The secretive group did not issue an announcement, but Mashaal’s re-election was confirmed by two Hamas officials. The vote late on Monday capped a year of internal elections spread over several countries and shrouded in mystery.

Qatar-based Mashaal, 56, has led Hamas since 1996 and now has another four-year term. He ran unopposed and won the support of a majority in Hamas’s shura council, which has about 60 members, said the two Hamas officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to discuss the secret election with reporters.

Mashaal enjoys the backing of Turkey, Egypt and Qatar, countries where Hamas’s parent movement, the region-wide Muslim Brotherhood, is influential.

It is not clear if his re-election will give him enough clout to pursue reconciliation or if hardliners, particularly those based in the Gaza Strip, will be able to veto a deal.

Hamas wrested Gaza from Mahmoud Abbas, the internationally backed Palestinian president, in 2007, leaving him with only parts of the West Bank. The rivals have established separate governments that have become increasingly entrenched in their respective territories.

Last year, Mashaal and Abbas, who have cordial relations, reached a deal whereby Abbas would head an interim government of technocrats in the West Bank and Gaza. This would have paved the way for general elections.

However, the deal never got off the ground because of opposition from Hamas leaders in Gaza and senior figures in Abbas’s Fatah movement. Hamas leaders in Gaza were particularly vehement in their objections, apparently fearing a deal would give Abbas a foothold in Gaza and weaken Hamas’s grip on the territory.

Last week, the emir of Qatar proposed holding a reconciliation conference in Egypt in coming weeks to set up a timetable for forming the interim government and holding elections.

Mashaal’s re-election could further distance Hamas from long-time patron Iran, which has supplied cash and weapons to the Hamas government in Gaza. Hamas broke with another long-time ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad, more than a year ago, over Assad’s brutal crackdown on a popular revolt that turned into an armed insurgency.

Mashaal’s relations with Iran cooled after he refused to back Assad, an Iranian ally, and Mashaal last visited Tehran in November 2011.

Other senior Hamas figures continue to visit Tehran and ties have not broken off, but Mashaal has found a new home in Qatar, one of Iran’s regional rivals.

Hamas was founded in Gaza in 1987, as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. It has four components: activists in Gaza, in the West Bank, in exile and those imprisoned by Israel. In the internal elections, each of the four groups chose local leaders as well as delegates to the shura council.

This council selects a decision-making political bureau and the head of that body – the stage that was wrapped up in Cairo on Monday. Details about the composition of the political bureau were not available Monday.

Mashaal is seen as a member of the more pragmatic wing of Hamas, in connection with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He and others in Hamas insist the movement will not recognize Israel and renounce violence – Western conditions for dealing with Hamas.

Mashaal has suggested he could accept a Palestinian state alongside Israel, though he has not said if such a state would end the conflict, or be an interim step to an Islamic state in all of historic Palestine, including what is now Israel.

Mashaal has also come out in support of so-called popular resistance against Israeli occupation, a term Palestinians use for marches and stone-throwing protests. In previous rounds of conflict, Hamas gunmen and suicide bombers have killed hundreds of Israelis in attacks.

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This is a significant breakthrough! According to this article that appeared in the Jerusalem Post, both Fatah and Hamas are agreed upon the need for a non-violent intifada.

In point of fact, Palestinians have been using non-violent means to pursue their goals for the greater part of their struggle, despite popular perceptions to the contrary – protests, hunger strikes, boycotts, etc. Even so, this is the first time though that both Palestinian factions have publicly agreed on this as a matter of policy.

Father Dave

source: www.jpost.com…

Abbas and Mashaal agree on peaceful intifada

By KHALED ABU TOAMEH

PA president says he hopes US would play larger role in peace talks, adds Washington can’t ignore UN upgrade of PA status.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas at PLO meeting in West Bank, January 29, 2013. Photo: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokma

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said over the weekend that he was in favor of a peaceful and popular resistance and that he and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal have reached agreement on the need for a peaceful intifada.

The two met in Cairo during a recent conference of Islamic countries.

Speaking during an interview with Al-Arabiya TV, Abbas said that he fully supported demonstrations against the security barrier and settlements, as well as Palestinian attempts to establish outposts in the West Bank, but stressed his opposition to violent measures.

“Armed resistance is banned,” he stressed. “This is a law and it is forbidden. It is also forbidden in the Gaza Strip.”

Abbas said that even Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad supported his call for peaceful protests.

The PA president said that the PA security forces in the West Bank have been arresting Palestinians who smuggle weapons from Israel.

“They smuggle weapons from Israel, including M-16 rifles and explosives,” he claimed. “These weapons could destroy my country. What am I going to do with all these Israeli weapons?” Turning to the prospect of negotiations with Israel, Abbas said that he did not expect a new government to change Jerusalem’s policy toward the peace process.

Abbas said he still did not know when US President Barack Obama would visit the region.

However, Obama’s visit to the region was a “significant indication that could revive the peace process, which has been completely frozen over the past four years,” he said.

The PA president said that the US would not be able to ignore the recent UN vote in favor of upgrading the Palestinians’ status to non-member state.

“America can’t say now that it does not recognize the UN vote,” Abbas said.

The Palestinians, he added, do not expect any change in the Israeli government’s policy in wake of last month’s general elections.

Abbas said that the Arab Spring has distracted attention from the Palestinian issue. Nevertheless he said, there was still a chance to achieve peace in the Middle East.

Commenting on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision to entrust MK Tzipi Livni, head of The Tzipi Livni Party, with the task of negotiating with the Palestinians, Abbas said: “The question is whether he [Netanyahu] personally believes in the peace process? I hope that things have changed now. I also hope that the US will play a larger role than before.”

Abbas claimed that Netanyahu, unlike his predecessor, former prime minister Ehud Olmert, had refused over the past four years to discuss final-status issues with the Palestinians.

Abbas said he dispatched a Palestinian delegation to Washington to exchange views with US administration officials ahead of Obama’s planned visit to the region. He said the delegation would hold talks in Washington about the settlements and about Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.

Abbas said the Palestinians wanted the Americans to know that these were their demands for the resumption of the peace talks with Israel

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Father Roy writes:   Today we witness another encouraging development in the Middle East Peace Process.  His Majesty King Abdullah …. who is universally respected …. who is admired by many of us because he’s so much like his father …. is hot on the heels of Russia’s President Putin.   Two spiritual athletes.   We’re two steps closer to a time for rejoicing.  The highlight in AP’s report is mine.   Cheers, Roy

Jordan King Meets Hamas Leaders, Nod to Islamists

AMMAN, Jordan June 28, 2012 (AP)

Jordan’s king has met with top Hamas leaders aspart of an about-face effort to engage with Islamists, who have been gaining ground all over the Mideast.

The Islamic militant Hamas rules Gaza. A Royal Palace statement says King Abdullah II’s talks Thursday with seven Hamas officials, headed by exiled leader Khaled Mashaal, focused on a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

That refers to creating a Palestinian state next to Israel. Hamas ideology rejects that, aiming for an Islamic Middle East, though some more pragmatic Hamas leaders favor some form of accepting Israel.

Abdullah’s meeting with Mashaal, a Jordanian citizen, is their second since January. Mashaal was expelled in 1999 for “illicit and harmful” activities.

Islamists make up the most influential opposition in Jordan, gaining strength in recent months.