Thursday, 23 November, 2017

Hamas says Ismail Haniyeh chosen as Islamic group's leader

Mike Hodges | 07 May, 2017, 01:02

"The Hamas Shura Council on Saturday elected Ismail Haniya as head of the movement's political bureau", the group's official website announced.

Gaza has been under blockade by Israel and Egypt for the past decade, imposed to prevent attacks by militants inside the territory.

The global community however refused to deal with any government in which Hamas participated until it renounced violence and recognised Israel and past peace agreements.

Hamas has frequently highlighted his modest background as a counterpoint to officials within the Palestinian Authority who have been accused of being corrupt and too easily compliant with Israel or the United States.

Hamas has also been explicit in its Holocaust Denial, and, in reaction to the January 2000 Stockholm conference on the Jewish Holocaust, issued a press release statinng: "This conference bears a clear Zionist goal, aimed at forging history by hiding the truth about the so-called Holocaust, which is an alleged and invented story with no basis".

Meshaal announced from Doha, Qatar that Haniya has been elected as the new chief of the movement. Repeated reconciliation efforts between the Palestinian factions have failed. Palestinian militants in Gaza have fought three wars with Israel since 2008.

The Gaza-based Islamic Jihad group on Saturday slammed the Hamas policy tweak.

His modest home in the narrow alleys of Gaza City's Shati refugee camp next to the Mediterranean Sea is under constant guard. He was the private secretary of Hamas' founder and spiritual leader Ahmed Yassin. He resigned as prime minister after Hamas and Fatah agreed to form a unity government in 2014 - a government that has never taken hold.

Haniyeh's first task will be to cope with escalating tensions between Hamas and Fatah.

Leila Seurat, a researcher at the Paris-based Centre for International Studies and Research, said the election of a Gaza-based leader signaled a shift for the movement.

"His election is a sign that the Gaza leadership has regained the upper hand from those outside", she said.

Mkhaimar Abusada, a professor of political science at Gaza's al-Azhar University, said Haniyeh was a natural successor to Mashaal and represented "a continuation for the moderate line in Hamas". Meshaal has been living in exile in Qatar and once resided in Syria.

Israel had no immediate comment.

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