Hamas elects new leader


The newly-elected leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, has pledged his support for the Palestinian political prisoners now waging a historic mass strike in Israeli cells.

Abbas rejected Haniyeh's leadership in June 2007, after the Hamas takeover of Gaza.

"We are opposed to Hamas's acceptance of a state within the 1967 borders and we think this is a concession which damages our aims", he said on Islamic Jihad's website.

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.

Others warn however that Hamas still has much to do to significantly change the worldwide community's attitude toward it, with many pointing out that it has not recognised Israel.

It stresses however that its struggle is not against Jews due to their religion but against Israel as an occupier.

That government was short-lived, in part because Hamas refused, then as now, to fulfill global conditions for recognition, including renouncing violence, recognizing Israel's right to exist, and accepting signed agreements between Israel and the Fatah-dominated Palestine Liberation Organization. He added that "this reflects how powerful Hamas movement is".

The Israeli Government Press Office stated that "this fraud was carried out in collusion with the senior ranks of Hamas in Gaza, headed by Ismail Haniyeh".

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The move, dismissed by Israel, appeared aimed at improving ties with Gulf states and Egypt as Abbas visited new US President Donald Trump in Washington, who expressed interest in renewing Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

Netanyahu claimed that this news may seem positive, but in reality Hamas has no intention of seeking common ground with Israel. Addressing the change, Meshal said "we are all certain that the new leadership will lead the organization wisely for the benefit of the Palestinian people".

"Electing Haniya and holding the well-organised internal elections on time were made in spite of the situation that Hamas is passing through", Xinhua quoted al-Qanoua as saying.

Some diplomats have however said Hamas would need to do much more to convince Western countries to end its isolation, noting that the changes announced so far could be merely window-dressing.

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

Abu Saada said Haniya's attempts to improve relations with Arab states would be key.

Just last March, Israel authorities arrested Muhammad Murtaja, the Gaza branch head of the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) after it was discovered that he was using money given to his branch for humanitarian purposes to arm and train Hamas operatives against Israel.