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Hamas Elects Haniyeh as New Political Chief | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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FILE PHOTO: Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh gestures before delivering a farewell speech for his former position as a Hamas government Prime Minister, in Gaza City June 2, 2014. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem/File Photo

Palestinian movement Hamas elected ex-Gaza Strip chief Ismail Haniyeh as its new leader on Saturday, days after revising its founding charter to ease its stance on Israel.

“The Hamas Shura Council on Saturday elected Ismail Haniyeh as head of the movement’s political bureau,” the group’s official website announced.

Haniyeh, seen as a pragmatist within the movement, is expected to remain in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian enclave run by Hamas since 2007.

He beat Mussa Abu Marzuk and Mohamed Nazzal in a videoconference vote of the ruling council’s members in Gaza, the West Bank and outside the Palestinian territories.

The 54-year-old takes charge of Hamas as it seeks to ease its international isolation while not marginalizing hardliners within the movement.

On Monday, it unveiled a new policy document easing its stance on Israel after having long called for its destruction.

The document notably accepts the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza, the territories occupied by Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967.

It also says its struggle is not against Jews because of their religion but against Israel as an occupier.