The Palestinian movement Hamas controlling the Gaza Strip Saturday elected former Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniya as its new political leader in replacement of exiled Khaled Meshaal who has completed a two-term mandate.
“The Hamas Shura Council Saturday elected Ismail Haniya as head of the movement’s political bureau,” the Hamas media said.
The Palestinian movement is blacklisted as terrorist organization by Israel and the United States.
Haniya was appointed Prime Minister after the movement won the 2007 Palestinian elections beating rival Fatah.
Hamas has been controlling the Strip since the election. Following the win, Israel imposed in 2008 a blockade, controlling access to the 2-million populated territory.
Haniya’s ascendance to political seat of the movement comes as the liberation group eases its stance on Israel.
Hamas last week unveiled a policy document charting out a new political manifesto; ceasing to call for the destruction of Israel. The document calls for a two-state solution to the Palestine-Israel crisis, with Palestinian state contained within territories occupied by Israel in the Six Day War of 1967.
The document also seeks to rebrand the organization isolated by the international community and listed by the European Union and the US as a terrorist organization. Hamas in the document stops to refer itself to the Muslim Brotherhood, its major backer since group’s creation.
According to analysts, this move will get the movement close to Cairo, which has outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood organization.
“Ismail Haniya is the most appropriate person to promote this document to Arab and international leaders,” said Gaza political scientist Mukhaimer Abu Saada.
Haniya, 54, is known as member of the pragmatic faction of the movement.