Tom Perry & Nidal al-Mughrabi | Cairo / Gaza | November 22
Reuters – Khaled Meshaal narrowly survived an assassination attempt ordered by Benjamin Netanyahu in 1997 the first time he was Israeli prime minister. Fifteen years on, the Hamas leader claims to have defeated Netanyahu once again.
The eight-day war between Israel and Palestinians in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip – a Hamas victory in Meshaal’s eyes – has breathed new life into his political career just he seemed poised to leave his post. Meshaal indicated earlier this year he did not want to continue as Hamas leader.
Meshaal, 56, took over as Hamas leader following the 2004 assassinations of Abdel-Aziz Al-Rantissi and Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the movement’s founder. With both of them killed in the Gaza Strip, Meshaal has led Hamas from the relative safety of exile.
For Americans following the Israel-Gaza conflict through mainstream television news, Sunday marked a welcome departure from the frequent unbalanced analysis that has long prevented any meaningful understanding of the situation. MSNBC’s Up With Chris devoted a lengthy segment to the conflict with a guest lineup that actually lent itself to an informative and balanced conversation about the escalating conflict.
The news that Hamas leader Khaled Meshal is resigning his leadership post is an ominous sign that Hamas is heading toward more confrontation with its Palestinian rival Fatah and the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the near future. Meshal is reported as seeking a bigger role for himself within the PLO even perhaps as its leader replacing the ageing and discredited Mahmoud Abbas.
As a leader of Gaza-based Hamas, Meshal should have been leading his organization from Gaza, which is free of Israeli control, and work to improve the lives of the people of Gaza, which his organization has been controlling since 2007. Instead Meshal has opted to place himself in the mold of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat taking comfort in hoping from this Arab capital to one day replace Arafat as a “symbol” of the Palestinian struggle against Israel albeit with very little results.
Even though Meshal lacks the personal charisma Arafat enjoyed for over 40 years, which later proved to be a disastrous trait for Palestinians leaders, he might find the regional alignment in his favor, especially in Egypt and Iran, should he decide to pursue plans to lead the PLO later on. Read More