Hamas’ Shura Council will select the movement’s next chief when Khalid Mashaal steps down, senior official Mahmoud Zahhar said Thursday.
Mashaal confirmed on Saturday that he does not seek renomination as head of the party’s politburo in upcoming elections, prompting speculation over who would take over the role.
Zahhar said the Shura Council was the only body with the authority to select the next party leader. "No one can nominate himself to lead the political bureau."
Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Mashaal’s deputy Mousa Abu Marzouq have been reported as possible candidates for the position.
Zahhar’s comments were made at a press conference after the first session of the Palestinian Legislative Council since 2007. The parliament had been paralyzed by the rivalry between Hamas and Fatah and Israel’s detention of Palestinian MPs.
Hamas called the meeting to discuss Israel’s imprisonment of PLC speaker Aziz Dweik, along with 26 other PLC members. Israel has jailed four lawmakers in the last week, two of whom were detained at the International Red Cross headquarters in East Jerusalem.
Senior Hamas official Ahmad Bahar said Wednesday that invitations had been sent to all PLC members to attend the session in Gaza City.
Several factions were not represented at the session.
Zahhar did not know why lawmakers failed to attend but said he considered their absence a "huge mistake."