Hamas Leader Retires, PLO Seeks Non-Member Status
The exiled leader of the Hamas movement, Khaled Meshaal, is stepping down from his post. Meshaal, who has led Hamas for more than 15 years, made the announcement at a Hamas leadership meeting in Cairo. Although officials say the change will not affect its approach to Israel, it may impact the organizations reconciliation with other Palestinian groups. Meshaal angered Hamas’ gaza-based leadership earlier this year when he agreed that the Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas could lead any future unity government.
On Monday, Ibrahim Khraishi, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, called for the recognition of Palestine as a U.N. member state. “The Palestinian people very soon are due to meet the dawn of their freedom,” Khraishi said. “We are confident that our state will be set up [as] a fully fledged member of the U.N..” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to launch a campaign asking for Palestine to be elevated from observer status to that of a U.N. non-member state when he addresses the General Assembly on Thursday. Writing in Ahram Online, Noura Erakat suggested that the Palestinian leadership is waiting to resume their full-fledged campaign for statehood until until after the U.S. presidential elections.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority entered talks with Israel over developing natural gas reserves off the coast of Gaza. The revenues, which would go directly to the P.A. and bypass the Hamas government of Gaza, would help ease the P.A.’s mounting financial problems. In a report backing the plan, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said that the “development of the Gaza Marine gas field will generate revenues that could contribute dramatically to Palestinian fiscal sustainability.” A spokesman for the Hamas government in Gaza rejected a deal brokered by the P.A., arguing that ”the government in Gaza should be consulted over any agreement of this kind.”