Militant Palestinian group Hamas has elected a new leader, further hinting the organization is trying to soften its image.
Haniya's election as chief of the group's political bureau concluded a secretive, monthslong process meant to set the future direction of Hamas as it battles the aging, mainstream Palestinian leadership for supremacy.
Hamas has announced a new leader of its Qatar-based wing, in a significant win for the Gaza-based faction of the group.
Moreover, by the announcement, Hamas may have wanted to show a delink from the pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood movement and draw a distinction between Palestinians' struggle against Israel.
It has also dropped explicit language calling for Israel's destruction, though it retains the goal of eventually "liberating" all of historic Palestine, which includes what is now Israel.
Haniyeh's rise was the latest sign of a power shift in Hamas from the diaspora to Gaza, which has been under Hamas rule since a 2007 takeover. His position got enhanced in Hamas during Al-Aqsa Intifada because of his relationship with Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and because of the Israeli assassinations of the movement's leaders.
Hamas has sharply criticized Abbas' political program, which rests on setting up a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast War. In the Battle of Gaza of 2007, which, for once, did not involve Israel, Hamas fighters then took control of the Strip and removed all the Fatah officials from their offices, some of them via their rooftops.
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Reports about the Palestinian group Hamas accepting a Palestinian state are "fake news", according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a video posted Sunday.
Ismail Haniyeh was born in Shati refugee camp on May 23, 1963, where his parents fled from Ashkelon city after the Palestinian Nakba. Israel and Egypt imposed a border blockade on Gaza after the Hamas takeover a decade ago, keeping the territory's borders sealed most of the time.
Haniya rose to prominence in 2006, when he led Hamas to a shock election victory over Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority.
The Israeli government has said the document aimed to deceive the world that Hamas was becoming more moderate.
Netanyahu finished the video by picking up a copy of the Hamas document.
Hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli jails have been refusing food since April 17. Unlike his predecessor, Haniyeh is also expected to remain based in Gaza. "Today, we announced it clearly and informatively", Haniyeh said of the new policy document.