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Khaled Mashaal, Plaestinian Political Leader of Hamas

Khaled Mashaal is the political leader of Hamas, the Sunni Islamist Palestinian organization, and head of its office in Damascus, Syria, from where he operates. Mashaal has taken responsibility for numerous suicide bombings against Israeli civilians.

As long as Hamas is backed by wide popular and electoral support among Palestinians, Mashaal will have to be a party to any peace agreement--not only between Israelis and Palestinians, but among Palestinians themselves.

Hamas' chief rival among Palestinians is Fatah, the party once controlled by Yasser Arafat and now controlled by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

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