Hamas re-elects Mashaal as leader

AFP-JIJI, AP

Veteran Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal was elected for a new term as head of the Palestinian Islamist movement, a party official said on Monday.

There had been speculation that Mashaal, who is based in exile, would be forced aside by the movement’s powerful leaders in the Gaza Strip, which it has controlled since 2007.

Meshaal himself had said last year that he would not seek a new term.

But a Hamas official said that the party’s governing “shura” council re-elected him for another four years at a meeting in Cairo late Monday.

“The leaders of Hamas chose Mashaal,” the high-ranking official said by telephone from the Egyptian capital.

In the Gaza Strip, meanwhile, the Hamas-controlled Parliament passed a law requiring separate classes for boys and girls in public and private schools from the fourth grade.

Currently, boys and girls are separated in grade seven in public schools, and private schools can set their own rules.

The education law, announced Monday, also bars male teachers from teaching in girls’ schools.