Tuesday, 19 March, 2019

Hamas says Ismail Haniyeh chosen as Islamic group's leader

Rafah crossing Egypt to open Rafah crossing into Gaza for three days
Andrew Cummings | 08 May, 2017, 00:09

Hamas also severed its ties with the Muslim Brotherhood in the changes which have been seen as an attempt to improve ties with Fatah, Egypt and the wider worldwide community. The goal of "destroying Israel" has also been removed from the agenda, however, the task is called "liberation" of historic Palestine, which includes modern Israel.

Haniyeh and other Hamas leaders were scheduled to leave for Qatar to participate in the vote, but the closure of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt prevented them from travelling.

"Haniyeh's new position could require him to go on tours outside Gaza", he said.

Israeli officials and policy experts have dismissed Hamas's document as an attempt by the terror group to gain greater appeal among the global community and the Palestinian population. During periods of respite, he still encourages terror attacks against Israel. Abbas has been an outspoken opponent of violence, saying it undercuts Palestinian interests.

Hamas in its new document agrees to a transitional Palestinian state within frontiers pre-dating a 1967 war but continues to refuse to recognise a right for Israel to exist and backs an "armed struggle", while Abbas recognises Israel and seeks a final peace agreement based on those lines.

This week, Hamas published its first new policy document since its founding charter.

In February, the group chose militant commander Yehiya Sinwar, one of its most hard-line figures, as its new Gaza chief in charge of the group's core power base.

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Ismail Haniyeh was born in Shati refugee camp on May 23, 1963, where his parents fled from Ashkelon city after the Palestinian Nakba.

Fatah welcomed Haniya's election in a statement, adding that the party hopes it "would boost the chances of achieving reconciliation and ending internal division".

He has already relinquished premiership on 2 June 2014 to Rami al-Hamdallah, saying "Today I voluntarily hand over the government as we are eager to make national unity and resistance succeed with all forms in the next phase".

For the past four years he has served as Mashaal's deputy. In recent weeks, Abbas has threatened to exert financial pressure, including cutting wage payments and aid to Gaza, as a way of forcing Hamas to cede ground. "If a person is from outside Gaza, he won't talk about Gaza's ordeals and worries properly".

He studied at the Islamic University in Gaza and graduated in 1987 with a bachelor in Arabic literature.

Israeli officials had no immediate comment on the election.

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