Three candidates are competing for the presidency of the political bureau of Hamas: Ismail Haniyeh, Saleh al-Arouri and Khaled Meshaal, according to a source in the movement
The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) announced today, Tuesday, the end of the first phase of its internal elections, while a source revealed the names of 3 candidates.
Hamas said in a press release that the beginning of its internal elections took place in the Gaza Strip “with the participation of tens of thousands of brothers and sisters who have the right to vote and run.”
She added, “The election process took place in a positive, democratic, transparent and fair atmosphere and organized procedures, supervised by a central election committee, in accordance with the movement’s approved rules of procedure.”
The movement indicated that the remaining electoral stages will be completed, leading to the election of the General Shura Council, the head and members of the movement’s political bureau.
Last Friday, Hamas announced the launch of its internal elections to choose its leaders, according to its internal system and the organizing regulations, and on specific periodic dates.
In mid-January, a source in the movement revealed internal consensus on resolving the leadership positions in the movement’s elections.
The source told the German news agency, at the time, that preparations were described as decisive, as part of the preparations for the Hamas elections separately in 3 regions, including the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and abroad (outside the Palestinian territories), to be continued for weeks.
He stated that the internal elections of Hamas go through several secret stages, from representatives of the regions to the movement’s Shura Council, which in turn elects members of the movement’s political bureau.
According to the source, 3 candidates are competing for the presidency of the political bureau of Hamas. They are the current head of the political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, his deputy, Saleh al-Arouri, and the former head of the political bureau, Khaled Meshaal.
Haniyeh, a former Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, was elected head of the political bureau in 2017 to succeed Meshaal, who abstained from running at the time, according to the internal movement’s laws and regulations that prevent him from running for a third term.
However, Meshaal returned strongly in the image of the new round of Hamas elections and formed a prominent competitor to Haniyeh, knowing that both of them reside with a number of Hamas leaders abroad.
The source revealed that prior agreements had taken place, especially between Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, to elect Haniyeh for a second term, to head the movement’s political bureau.
In return, he explained, the Hamas leadership abroad will be assigned to Meshaal, and al-Arouri will continue to supervise the movement in the West Bank, and thus his continuation in the position of deputy head of the political bureau in accordance with the movement’s bylaws.
According to the source, Haniyeh, in addition to his support from the Palestinian interior, had the support of Hamas leaders abroad, especially in Lebanon, which he visited on a lengthy visit last September.
During his visit to Lebanon, Haniyeh visited the Ein El-Helweh Palestinian refugee camp as the first official of this level to visit the camp, and it received a wide popular reception that enhanced his chances among Hamas members abroad.
Lebanon is the largest Arab arena for Hamas since its leaders left Syria shortly after the outbreak of the popular uprising there in 2011.
The current Hamas leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, is facing competition with a number of the movement’s leaders, but he is considered the strongest candidate for re-election for a second round in light of the broad support he receives from the movement’s military leadership, according to the source, who stated that Hamas ended its leadership elections inside Israeli prisons. Without announcing results.
Hamas is looking forward to speeding up the completion of its internal elections, in preparation for the legislative elections that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued a decree a month ago to hold them on May 22.
The movement did not specify an official position on the possibility of running the presidential elections that will be held on July 31, noting that the movement won the majority of seats in the last elections for the Legislative Council in 2006.
Hamas has controlled the Gaza Strip since mid-2007, and has fought 3 large-scale military confrontations since that time with the Israeli occupation and dozens of intermittent rounds.
Israel imposed a tight blockade on the Gaza Strip since Hamas took control of the situation there, which severely affected the lives of the nearly two million people living in the Strip, and constituted a major challenge to the popularity of the movement over the past years.