Ismail Haniyeh has been elected to head up the political bureau of the terror movement Hamas, replacing Khaled Mashaal in the position.
For 21 years Mashaal, a West Bank native, headed Hamas’s politburo from hotels and luxury apartments in Damascus, Qatar and Jordan, and the change is seen as an attempt to make Hamas a more-Gaza focused organisation.
A senior Hamas official told Haaretz Haniyeh is thought to be intending to divide his time between Qatar and the Strip.
It is also believed Haniyeh’s appointment reflects a desire of Hamas so send a message to the people of Gaza that it is on their side: Haniyeh is a Gaza native, having grown up and lived there his whole life. He is a resident of the Shati refugee camp, a far cry from the luxury hotels of Qatar.
Last week, Hamas issued a political manifesto in which it claimed to accept a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 borders and denied its struggle was “against Jews”, which prompted suggestions in the international press that the movement had become more moderate.
However, many media outlets failed to mention that Hamas’s old antisemitic charter remained in place, and that the group was not renouncing its intention to destroy Israel.