Mashal: I'm the Address

(Press Agencies) Mash'al's statements from Damascus signal to the Palestinians, to Israel and to the international community that he is the real Palestinian "address"

In a press conference held in Damascus, the head of the Political Bureau in Hamas, Khaled Mashal, declared that his organization insists on conditioning the release of the kidnapped soldier ("prisoner of war") Gilad Shalit, on a comprehensive prisoner's exchange agreement with Israel. Hamas senior representative in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan, said that Mashal's statement represents "the Palestinian People in its entirely".

There was essentially nothing new in Mashal's statement, as he repeated his positions various times in recent weeks. The apparent reason for holding the press conference derives from Mashal's aspiration to position himself as the legitimate and exclusive Palestinian "address":

  • For Abu-Mazen and the PLO – it is to no surprise that two PLO delegates came yesterday to Damascus to discuss with Mashal the terms for the creation of a "new PLO", in which Hamas is to take part. This is because Mashal's statements undermine the status of the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and the understanding between Fatah and the Hamas government based on the Prisoner's agreement (Document of National Accord).

  • For The Hamas government - Mashal signals that he is the true landlord within Hamas by setting the preliminary conditions for the soldier's release. Mashal positions himself as the leader of the Palestinian struggle, in a comparison to the more moderate Hamas' government.

  • For Israel - Mashal signals to Israel and the international community that as the leader of Hamas, he is the real Palestinian address.

The Re'ut Institute pointed out as early as last April that the Hamas was trying to create a distinction between the Hamas Movement and the Hamas-led government so to ease pressure on the PA (See "Is Hamas Preparing the Ground for a Compromise?")