Stay Updated on Developing Stories

Ismail Haniya elected new Hamas leader

Story highlights
  • Ismail Haniya is a former Palestinian prime minister based in Gaza
  • Hamas issued a new policy document accepting 1967 borders for future state

Jerusalem(CNN) A longtime senior Hamas official was elected Saturday to replace the Palestinian militant group's outgoing head, Khaled Meshaal, an official in Meshaal's office told CNN.

Hamas' Shura Council chose Ismail Haniya to become the new leader. Haniya is a onetime Palestinian prime minister based in Gaza -- which the group has controlled for 10 years.

The Shura Council will decide whether Haniya will follow the example of Meshaal and live outside Gaza. Meshaal has been living in exile in Qatar and once resided in Syria.

This week, Hamas issued a new policy document that for the first time indicated the group was willing to accept the idea of a future Palestinian state falling within borders that existed in 1967 before Israel took control of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. (Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005.)

The international community widely recognizes the area defined by the 1967 borders as the site of a future Palestinian state, sitting alongside Israel in a so-called two-state solution.

Hamas stopped short of recognizing Israel in its policy document, stating there would be no "compromising its rejection of the Zionist entity and (no) relinquishing (of) any Palestinian rights."

Israel accused Hamas of attempting to dupe the international community, citing its daily "call for genocide of all Jews and the destruction of Israel."

"They dig terror tunnels and have launched thousands upon thousands of missiles at Israeli civilians. Schools and mosques run by Hamas teach children that Jews are apes and pigs. This is the real Hamas," said David Keyes, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Meshaal told CNN that the Trump administration must break with the past to bring peace to the Middle East.

"This is a historic opportunity to pressure Israel ... to find an equitable solution for the Palestinian people," Meshaal said. "And it will be to the credit of the civilized world and the American administration to stop the darkness that we have been suffering from for many years."

Those comments came as President Donald Trump met Wednesday with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas at the White House. Trump has said he is working toward what he calls the "ultimate deal" between Israel and the Palestinians.

CNN's Andrew Carey reported from Jerusalem, and Joe Sterling wrote and reported from Atlanta. CNN's Talal Abu Rahma and Abeer Salman contributed to this report.