Hamas picks former Gaza chief Haniyeh as its leader
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Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has chosen its former chief in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniya, as its top leader, days after it released a policy document easing its stance on Israel.
"The Hamas Shura Council on Saturday elected Ismail Haniya as head of the movement's political bureau," the group's official website said Saturday.
Seen as a pragmatist within the movement, the 54-year-old takes charge of Hamas as it seeks to ease its international isolation without marginalising hardliners within the movement.
The militant group is trying to rebrand itself as an Islamic national liberation movement, rather than a branch of the pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood, which has been outlawed by Egypt.
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 idea of a Palestinian state in 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.
However, Hamas officials said the document in no way amounts to recognition of Israel as demanded by the international community.
Hamas, which ousted Abbas's Fatah party from Gaza in 2007, has dismissed the latter's attempts to resume peace talks with Israel as a waste of time.
Abbas has warned he will cut salaries, aid and subsidies to Gaza to pressure Hamas.
Earlier this week, his West Bank-based government announced it would stop paying for electricity Israel sends to power-starved Gaza.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)