Hamas holds secret elections, picks Haniyeh as head of Gaza politburo (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Avi Issacharoff 04/25/12)
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Hamas recently held secret elections for the leadership of the
organization´s Gaza political bureau, officials in the militant group
told Haaretz. According to the officials, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail
Haniyeh won the race by a significant margin.
The win in effect makes Haniyeh the Strip´s first recognized Hamas
political leader since Israel´s assassination of Hamas´ former Gaza
political chief Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi in 2004.
Speaking to Haaretz, Hamas officials said that the utterly covert
elections were held less than two weeks ago, in which voters elected
the 77 members of the group´s advisory council in Gaza, as well as
the 15 members of the Strip´s Hamas politburo, Gaza´s most powerful
Other than bolstering Haniyeh´s position, the Hamas elections marked
several additional and interesting trends. First, two of those
released as part of the Gilad Shalit swap deal quickly made their way
into the groups´ leadership.
Yehia Sanwar, one of Shalit´s abductors, the brother of whom is
considered to be one of the founders of Hamas´ military wing, and
Rawhi Mushtaha, his one-time deputy, were both elected to the Hamas´
political bureau in the Strip.
Second, members of the "moderate wing," such as Razi Hamed, Ahmed
Yousef, and Salah al-Bardawil did not succeed in getting elected,
unlike members of the group´s military wing, such as its head
Mohammad Ali Jafari as well as Marwan Issa (Jafari joined the
political bureau in the previous elections as well).
Another interesting development is the choice of Imad al-Alami – a
former member of Hamas´ Damascus bureau, who only recently arrived in
Gaza after fleeing Syria, as Haniyeh´s deputy.
Others elected to the political bureau were Khalil al-Hayeh, Nizar
Awdallah, and Mahmoud Zahar, who clashed with the groups overseas´
leadership several times in recent months.
Issam Dailes, considered a kind of Hamas finance minister, was unable
to make the final list.
Next month, Hamas will hold general elections to the overall
politburo, with every one of the group´s chapters – Gaza, West Bank,
and abroad – will choose six members out of the total 18 members of
the general politburo. Those members, in turn, will elect the new
Last December, Hamas chief Khaled Meshal indicated that he would not
seek reelection as the organization´s political leader in forthcoming
There has been a widening rift between Hamas leaders in Gaza and
those abroad. Palestinian analysts say Meshal recently realized that
the Gaza leadership was determined to prevent his reappointment and
decided instead to preempt them and quit. (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz
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