Friday, 24 November, 2017

Hamas elects Haniya as new chief of Islamic movement

Dexter Carr | 15 May, 2017, 06:46

Abdulatif al-Qanou, Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said in a statement that Haniya replaced Kahled Meshaal, the Hamas leader who has been the chief of the movement for eight years, Xinhua news agency reported.

"The Hamas Shura Council on Saturday elected Ismail Haniya as head of the movement's political bureau", the Hamas media said.

Mr Haniya is seen as a pragmatist who will try to ease Hamas's worldwide isolation. It also says Hamas will accept the borders of Palestine as dictated by the borders before 1967 when Israel took over the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

In a document issued last Monday, Hamas said it was dropping its longstanding call for Israel's destruction, but said it still rejected the Jewish state's right to exist and continued to back "armed struggle" against it.

Islamic Jihad's deputy leader, Ziad al-Nakhala, said he considered the new Hamas platform as a progress towards a "deadlock", adding that his movement does not accept a "Palestinian State within the 1967 borders because such a concession damages our aims". It also sought to distance the organization from the anti-Semitic language of its original charter.

The next year he was imprisoned for six months and in 1989, he was sentenced to three years in prison for being a member of Hamas.

Haniyeh's selection marks the final phase of the secretive Hamas elections.

"If someone is from outside Gaza, he won't talk about Gaza's ordeals and worries properly", said Ahmed Okasha, a Gaza vendor.

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"The prisoners' cause is - and will remain - a top priority for Hamas and all Palestinian leaders", Haniyeh said.

The 54-year-old's sudden return to power is regarded as another sign of a shift within the movement that has been governing Gaza for a decade to recolate the diaspora in Gaza.

Hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli jails have been refusing food since April 17.

An influential military figure, he represents for some the hardest line within the Islamist movement.

"I hope (Haniya) makes good decisions for the Palestinians he aspires to lead". Hamas seized Gaza from the Palestinian Authority in 2007 and despite several attempts reconciliation between the two authorities has failed.

In what is seen as a bid to improve relations with Egypt, the document also does not refer to the Muslim Brotherhood, which was closely linked to Hamas when the Palestinian organisation was formed.

Ismail Haniya, from the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, is expected to move to Qatar.

Netanyahu said in the video that in its "hateful document", Hamas "lies to the world".

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