Ismail Haniyeh has been elected the overall head of the Palestinian Islamic resistance movement Hamas.
Haniyeh has been the long-time head of Hamas in Gaza but now takes over from Khalid Meshaal as the head of the movement’s politburo.
Meshaal made the announcement from the Qatari capital of Doha, where he resides in exile.
The election of Haniyeh breaks with Hamas tradition, in which the leader resides outside of Palestine, as Haniyeh is expected to remain in Gaza.
Hamas has usually preferred its overall leader to remain in exile because it is easier for an exiled leader to travel in the region.
Haniyeh is from al-Shati refugee camp in northern Gaza, where he still lives.
“It is a honor for me to inform our people, our movement’s members, and our nation, the election of Abu al-Abed, my brother Ismail Haniyeh, as the president of the political bureau of the movement,” Meshaal, who assumed office 1996, said in video shared on social media. “I put all of my trust in Abu al-Abid.”
It is unclear when Haniyeh will officially assume responsibilities for his new role. Meshaal reportedly will remain in a leadership position in Hamas, serving as chairman of the Shura council, the equivalent of Hamas’s parliament.
The announcement on Saturday marked the culmination of a months-long process of Hamas’ internal elections, as all other leadership positions in the Gaza Strip, occupied West Bank, inside Israeli prisons, and abroad have also been determined.
Meshaal reportedly said that the names of the remaining new leadership would be announce “at the appropriate time.”
Hamas typically carries out internal elections every four years, to determine leadership and administration committees on all levels, including electing the members of head of the movement’s politburo. Yahya Sinwar was notably elected as the head of the party’s politburo in the Gaza Strip in February.
At the start of this month, Hamas announced its new charter, declaring acceptance of a Palestinian state along the 1967 “Green Line” border, while rejecting any legitimacy of “the Zionist entity,” in reference to the state of Israel.
The acknowledgement of the 1967 borders came as a vast departure from the group’s previous stance, which held that “all Palestinian land is sacred; there can be no end to the conflict with Israel.”