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Hamas says Ismail Haniyeh chosen as Islamic group's leader

Hamas says Ismail Haniyeh chosen as Islamic group's leader

Gaza-based resistance group Hamas will hold elections on Saturday to elect a new political bureau chief to replace Khaled Meshaal, according to a Hamas source.

Haniya became involved in political activities at university through the student union, the arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, later the Islamic Hamas movement in December 1987.

"We hope the coming phase with Ismail Haniyeh would see an opening to the region", said Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman.

Hamas has ruled Gaza since 2007, after securing an overwhelming victory in legislative elections the previous year and ending 40 years of political domination by its rival Fatah party.

Meshaal announced from Doha that Haniya has been elected as the new chief of the movement.

The peak of his power came after Hamas violently took over the Gaza Strip, which gave him the status of de facto ruler by the virtue of him heading the Hamas government in the coastal strip.

Hamas officials said the revised document in no way amounts to recognition of Israel as demanded by the global community. However, it also "rejects any alternative to the full and complete liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea". During periods of respite, he still encourages terror attacks against Israel. The Rafah crossing is Gaza's only gateway to the outside world not controlled by Israel but it has remained largely closed in recent years because of tensions between Egypt and Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas. Abbas has been an outspoken opponent of violence, saying it undercuts Palestinian interests. Analysts said that in trying to create a compromise among opposing factions, the new document failed to fully satisfy any of them. Last week the group issued a new program that accepts the notion of a Palestinian state in territories captured by Israel in the Six Day War of 1967, while still calling for the destruction of Israel.

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

Haniya was born in Gaza's Shatti refugee camp in 1963.

Refusing to quit, Haniya continued as the Gaza Strip's government premier until June 2014, when another reconciliation agreement was reached, forming a consensus government headed by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.

For the past four years he has served as Mashaal's deputy.

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