Former chief of Gaza Ismail Haniya has been elected overall head of the Palestinian Islamist group, succeeding Khaled Meshaal, its official media announced Saturday.
Haniya, seen as a pragmatist within the movement, is expected to remain in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian enclave run by Hamas since 2007.
Khaled Meshaal has been on exile in Doha and had completed the maximum two terms in office.
“The Hamas Shura Council on Saturday elected Ismail Haniya as head of the movement’s political bureau,” the group’s official website announced.
The other two who were contesting for the post were Mussa Abu Marzuk and Mohamed Nazzal. He beat both of them in a videoconference vote of the ruling council’s members in Gaza, the West Bank and outside the Palestinian territories.
The 54-year-old with a salt-and-pepper takes charge of Hamas as it seeks to ease its international isolation while not marginalising hardliners within the movement.
On Monday, it unveiled a new policy document easing its stance on Israel after having long called for its destruction.