Occupied Jerusalem, Asharq Al-Awsat – A well-informed source within the Hamas movement informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the internal elections for the Hamas Shura Council and Political Bureau are expected to take place within the next two weeks. The source revealed that in the first phase, members of local Consultative Councils are selected, who in turn vote for the Hamas Shura Council, which ultimately elects the movement’s administrative leadership, the Hamas Political Bureau. The elections are split between 4 constituencies, namely the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Israel’s prisons, and Hamas members abroad. The Hamas source also asserted that the Palestinian movement has taken the decision to increase the number of Shura Council and Political Bureau members, without revealing the precise details of this.
According to the source, elections in each constituency will not take place with the same level of coordination and organization. The Hams source said that the Gaza Strip elections will take place without any problems, particularly as the Hamas movement is in control of this territory, however elections in the West Bank will be more difficult due to the state of uncertainty that exists there after Israel arrested hundreds of Hamas leaders and members.
As for the election in Israel’s prisons, the source stressed this would most likely take a long period of time due to the nature of the restrictions that are imposed on Hamas members in prison, as well as due to the fact that Hamas members are detained in a number of separate Israeli prisons and jails. The source also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Hamas cadres and leaders abroad have also been scattered following the outbreak of the Syrian revolution, which does not help in holding elections. This means that it may take some time for Hamas to hold these elections and know their final results.
The Hamas source also confirmed a report previously published by Asharq Al-Awsat approximately two months ago which claimed that Khalid Mishal will remain as president of the Hamas Political Bureau for another term. The Hamas source said that it is almost certain that Mishal will stand as the sole candidate for the presidency of the Hamas political bureau, and that it is practically guaranteed that he will serve another term in this post.
The Hamas source indicated that the reports about Mishal’s unwillingness to stand for a new term as president of the Hamas Political Bureau are due mainly to criticisms that he has received from Hamas leaders in Gaza, particularly due to his signing of a reconciliation agreement in Cairo with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his acceptance of the principle of popular resistance to the occupation. However the source stressed that there is a consensus within the framework of the Hamas leadership on the importance of Mishal continuing in his post, due to his broad relations [with Arab leaders] and the freedom now available to him to travel around the Arab and Islamic world.
The Hamas source also said that he expects there to be a lot of competition for Shura Council seats in the Gaza Strip, particularly as dozens of Hamas figures who were released from prison as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal are set to participate in the elections there. He added that the released prisons are widely expected to sweep to victory in the Gaza Strip elections, joining the Hamas Shura Council and increasing their chances of joining the Political Bureau. The source also confirmed that Yehia Sinwar and Rawhi Mushtaha are among the most prominent freed prisoners who are set to take part in the forthcoming Hamas elections. Sinwar was one of the most prominent of the released prisoners and is set to compete for the Khan Yunis district of the Gaza Strip, whilst Mushtaha will compete in Gaza. The Hamas source said that he expected these election results to affect the balance of power of the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip, but not to cause any drastic changes in other areas.