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Haniyeh Elected Meshaal’s Successor while PA Sieges Hamas Through Taxes | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Dec. 12, 2014 file photo, Palestinian top Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh greets supporters during a rally to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the Hamas militant group, at the main road in Jebaliya in the northern Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Ramallah – Hamas on Saturday elected former deputy Ismail Haniyeh as the new chief of its political bureau, the highest position at the Movement, which is ruled by Shura institutions.

Haniyeh was capable of winning the highest votes of the General Shura Council against his closest competitor Moussa Abu Marzouk and three other candidates who ran in the last minute.

Outgoing Hamas Chief Khaled Meshaal said he puts all of his trust in the new Movement leadership and that he will stand behind the “new leader Ismail Haniyeh.”

Haniyeh’s election came only few days after Hamas issued its new political platform, which generated confusion and was rejected on Saturday by the Islamic Jihad Movement.

Last Monday, Hamas announced accepting the idea of a Palestinian state based on the June 4, 1967 border and its separation from the Muslim Brotherhoods.

Islamic Jihad’s deputy leader, Ziad al-Nakhala, said he considered the new Hamas platform as a progress towards a “deadlock,” adding that his movement does not accept a “Palestinian State within the 1967 borders because such a concession damages our aims.”

Meanwhile Fatah congratulated Haniyeh on his election as the Hamas chief but said it expected him to hand over the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian government.

Haniyeh was selected in polls that were held on May 6 in both the Gaza Strip and Doha simultaneously via video conference.

Meshaal has been Hamas political chief since 1996.

Until Hamas accepts to give up its control of Gaza, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued on Saturday a decree, which exempts the Gazan population from paying all taxes and fees to official departments and establishments of the Palestinian Authority (PA.).

The decree also exempts Palestinians in Gaza from paying the Value Added Tax (VAT) in an attempt to deprive Hamas from collecting those tax revenues.