Hamas says Ismail Haniyeh chosen as Islamic group's leader

Egypt reopens crossing with Gaza in humanitarian move

Egypt reopens crossing with Gaza in humanitarian move

Khaled Meshaal, the head of Palestinian Hamas movement, on Saturday said that Ismail Haniya, a former leader of the group in the Gaza Strip, was elected as his successor.

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

The 54-year-old with a salt-and-pepper beard takes charge as it seeks to ease its worldwide isolation while not marginalising hardliners within the movement.

It has dropped its long-standing call for Israel's destruction and has severed ties with the Muslim Brotherhood in a recent policy shake-up.

The document, published Monday, labels as "a national consensus" the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state along pre-1967 lines with the return of refugees to their homes in Israel.

It also says Hamas's struggle is not with Jews but with "occupying Zionist aggressors".

The worldwide community however refused to deal with any government in which Hamas participated until it renounced violence and recognised Israel and past peace agreements. It is likely that the new "capo di tutti capos" of one of the most corrupt and violent organized crime group on the planet will move to Qatar to assume his new role, seeing as Israel would make it hard for him to travel free around the Middle East to prepare terror attacks and converse with Arab heads of state.

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"Hamas is ready to initiate a new phase of its history".

Haniya's election comes the same week Hamas released a new set of policy principles, moderating some of the positions outlined in its 1988 charter.

Haniyeh, who spent several terms in Israeli prisons-about four years altogether- became prime minister of the Palestinian Authority after Hamas had won the PA legislative elections of 2006.

The announcement comes shortly after Gaza's rulers unveiled a new, seemingly more pragmatic political program aimed at ending the group's global isolation. "Hamas is attempting to fool the world, but it will not succeed", said David Keyes, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Khalid Meshaal, who preceded Haniya as leader of the bureau, confirmed the transition of power to Al Jazeera.

"We are opposed to Hamas's acceptance of a state within the 1967 borders and we think this is a concession which damages our aims", he said on Islamic Jihad's website.