Hamas confirms leader Khaled Mashaal’s re-election

CAIRO (AP) — Palestinian militant group Hamas has confirmed the re-election of longtime leader Khaled Mashaal in a vote held in Cairo.

In a statement Tuesday, the group said the election came after voting by leaders from Gaza, in the West Bank, in exile and those in Israeli jails.

Mashaal, 56, led the group since 1996. He is a relative pragmatist who enjoys the backing of regional powers Turkey, Egypt and Qatar. He is expected to tackle the stalled reconciliation with West Bank leader Mahmoud Abbas.

Hamas wrested Gaza from Abbas in 2007. Since then, the rivals have established separate governments in the West Bank and Gaza.

Two Hamas officials said Mashaal ran unopposed in the Monday vote, winning the support of a majority in Hamas’ Shura Council which has about 60 members.

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