Gaza - Ma'an - Hamas leader Khalid Mash'al has been reelected the leader of the movement's top decision-making body, the Political Bureau, for the third time, a high-ranking Hamas source disclosed on Monday.
The result of secret elections held throughout the Middle East over the last several days will see Mash'al continue to be Hamas' highest leader for the next four years.
In addition, Muhammad Nazzal, the Hamas representative in Jordan, has been replaced by Osama Hamdan, representative in Lebanon, in the political bureau.
"Members of Hamas' political echelon, and the General Consultative Council in the Gaza Strip left the Strip recently heading to Damascus, where the Political Bureau operates in exile," the source said without saying when elections were held. He added that representatives were there to "partake in meetings and electing the new politburo which consists of 15 members."
As for an elections mechanism, the sources say Hamas has lists of members who are eligible to vote. They select their representatives in local Consultative Councils in their specific regions. These councils then nominate representatives to the General Consultative Council, which is based outside of Palestine. The Political Bureau is elected by members of the General Consultative Council.
The source confirmed that Muhammad Nazzal was nominated by his local consultative council, but he was not elected to the membership of the politburo; he was beat out by Osama Hamdan. While some leaders were replaced, analysts say no major changes in the party were realized. The Hamas source would not name members of its politburo from the West Bank and Gaza fearing that Israel might assassinate them.
Amongst members of the previous politburo were Khalid Mash'al, his deputy Mousa Abu Marzouq, Imad Al-Alami, Izzat Ar-Rashq, Sami Khatir, Muhammad Nasr, and Muhammad Nazzal.
According to sources, the head of Hamas politburo must not necessarily be based in exile, but Hamas leaders prefer this because it is easier for an exiled leader to travel in the region. The late Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmad Yasin headed the politburo while living in the Gaza Strip. Mash'al was then elected before Yasin was assassinated by Israeli forces in 2004.
The sources also revealed that Hamas elected an Executive Office of 25 members. This body is a narrower consultative council for the movement. The Executive Office includes all 15 members of the politburo in addition to chair of the General Consultative Council, his deputy, and the secretary. The other seven members are elected from the General Consultative Council.
A few months ago, Hamas elected its local political leadership in the Gaza Strip, while in the West Bank no elections were held for what it said were security reasons.***Get breaking news from Palestine: Click to follow Ma'an on Twitter.