Haniyeh Likely to Become Hamas’ Political Leader, Hamas Source Confirms

Ismail Haniyeh

Hamas’ leadership is poised to choose Ismail Haniyeh as leader of the group’s political bureau, replacing Khaled Meshal, a Hamas source in Gaza has confirmed to Breitbart Jerusalem following several Arab media reports on the matter.

Discussions have been ongoing within Hamas’ leadership for the past few months ahead of new elections, with a consensus developing that a leader should be elected who comes from the Gaza Strip for the first time in the movement’s history.

Haniyeh, who has served as prime minister since Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006, is the leading candidate for the position. If chosen, Haniyeh will be expected to move to Qatar, where Meshal currently resides and where the leadership believes his life will be better protected than living in the unstable Gaza Strip.

The source in Gaza however, said that local leaders in the Strip haven’t decided if they will support the move. “People have waiting for years in Gaza for the steering wheel to be officially placed in their hands and the idea that, just as the wheel is handed over, the leader will move abroad, isn’t very acceptable for most of the movement’s senior members in the Strip.”

Arab media has reported recently that Hamas’ leadership has been examining the possibility of sending Haniyeh and his family to Qatar if he is selected.

The source told Breitbart Jerusalem that, among those opposed to sending Haniyeh abroad, the claim was made that “Iran’s supporters in Hamas will take control of the movement.

“Mahmoud al-Zahar and the military leaders think that Hamas must go back to being an official part of the Iranian axis, a demand opposed by Haniyeh and the majority of Hamas’ leadership abroad. Therefore, Haniyeh’s move to Qatar as head of the movement will leave the ground in Gaza to the influence of Iran’s supporters.

“Even the funds controlled by the movement’s leaders abroad would not delay the process of the Iranians and their supporters in the movement finding many other ways to make up for the money that arrives from other sources.

“This is a complex issue that has much greater implications than the outcome of internal elections in the movement.”

It focuses instead “on the movement’s path and continued unity between supporters of Iran and those who believe that Hamas should be on good terms with all players in the region and in the world, and especially not to turn their backs on the large Sunni countries currently in political and military conflict with Iran and its supporters. “