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New 'rules of the game' for Israeli-Hamas standoff

The expulsion from Qatar of Hamas leaders and the movement's reconciliation with Iran has potentially changed the "rules of the game" between Israel and Hamas.
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal gestures as he announces a new policy document in Doha, Qatar, May 1, 2017. REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon - RTS14OTL
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Salah al-Arouri is the first senior Hamas figure forced to leave Qatar at the height of the diplomatic upheaval currently gripping the Gulf emirate. He was accompanied on his June 4 departure by Moussa Dudin, a former West Bank resident freed from an Israeli prison in the 2011 prisoner exchange deal with Hamas for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. After his release, Dudin joined the Hamas “bureau” built by Arouri, first operating out of Turkey and then Qatar, to carry out attacks against Israelis in the West Bank.

Hamas' political bureau set up its headquarters in the oil-rich principality in January 2012, when its top officials abandoned Damascus at the start of the civil war there. Then, as now, the distance between the Gaza Strip and Hamas' offices abroad was not only geographic. It also had profound repercussions for the movement’s future. When former political bureau chief Khaled Meshaal left Damascus for Qatar, the movement’s entire orientation changed. Hamas transformed from an organization joined at the hip with Syria and Iran into a lackey of the wealthy Gulf emirate, benefiting from its bounty and carrying out its orders.

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