Khaled Mashal, who lives in exile in Qatar, praised the election of the new leader, stating “I put all of my trust in Abu al-Abid [Ismail Haniyeh]”. Mashal had completed the maximum two terms in office, and became leader in 2004 following the assassinations of Hamas founders Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi.
Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesperson for the terror group, said that Haniyeh’s appointment “reaffirms that Hamas is strong…and believes in democracy and respects its results”.
Haniyeh has held numerous roles in the organisation, including serving as an assistant to Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Hamas liaison to the Palestinian Authority, Hamas Gaza Chief, and former Prime Minister of Gaza.
PLO Executive Committee Member Wasel Abu Yousef stated that the Palestinian leadership hopes that Haniyeh’s election will bring about an end to the polarisation between Gaza and the West Bank.
Ismail Haniyeh’s election took place shortly after Hamas unveiled a new political appendage to its founding 1987 charter in an apparent attempt to rebrand itself as a more ‘moderate’ organisation and gain international favour.
The new policy document, which does not replace the founding charter, upholds the organisation’s call for an armed struggle against Israel and rejects and recognition of Israel.
Hamas has been the de facto ruler of the Gaza Strip since 2007.