New Hamas chief makes first public appearance in native Gaza

After he was declared as the new chief of Hamas political bureau chief on Saturday, Fatah movement led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was reported as saying that "it welcomed the election" and hoped that Haniyeh's major focus would be placed on the Palestinian internal situation "in order to achieve unity and end internal division".

"The Hamas Shura Council on Saturday elected Ismail Haniyeh as head of the movement's political bureau", the Hamas media agency said.

Hamas is under increasing pressure in Gaza as it struggles under a blockade by Israel and what it says is a campaign by Palestinian leaders in the West Bank to undermine its authority.

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".

Haniyeh was named Palestinian prime minister in 2006, after Hamas defeated the Fatah movement in parliament elections.

The announcement caps several months of voting among Hamas' far-flung members in Gaza, the West Bank, Israeli jails and overseas to select a replacement for Meshaal, who sought to step down.

President Abbas said that their strategic option and choice is to bring about peace based on the vision of the two-state, a Palestinian state with its capital of East Jerusalem that lives in peace and stability with the state of Israel based on the borders of 1967. The hunger strike is officially led by Marwan Barghouti, who as a member of Fatah is actually a representative of the rival political faction to Hamas. In February, the group chose Yahya Sanwar, one of Hamas' most extreme and violent leaders, to replace him.

The official told Al-Hayat that Israel did not respond this month to an official request by the Palestinian Authority to stop deducting the cost of electricity provided to Gaza-$11 million a month-from the monthly PA customs and taxes revenues.

Ismail Haniya, a former prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, could help bring Hamas back into the worldwide conversation.

The Rafah crossing is Gaza's only gateway to the outside world not controlled by Israel, but it has remained largely closed in recent years because of tensions between Egypt and Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas.

Yahya Sinwar was jailed by Israel until October 2011, when he was freed along with more than 1,000 other Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured five years earlier.

Abbas made the announcement on taxes the same day that Ismail Haniyeh, who was born and grew up in the Shati refugee camp, was elected leader of the Hamas politburo, following Khaled Meshal who served two terms.

"Ismail Haniya is the most appropriate person to promote this document to Arab and global leaders", said Gaza political scientist Mukhaimer Abu Saada. These steps started with the deduction of 30 percent of the salaries of its 60,000 employees, who were dismissed from work in the Gaza Strip, followed by demanding that Israel stop providing electricity to Gaza, for which the PA is paying.

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