Ismail Haniyeh has been elected as expected to head the Hamas political bureau and thus become the supreme leader of the movement. Haniyeh defeated Mousa Abu Marzouk, one of the founders of the political bureau in the US state of Virginia. He headed the bureau until his arrest in July 1995 by the US immigration authorities, following an Israeli request for his extradition. Abu Marzouk had hoped to return to the top of Hamas’ political leadership, but on May 6, Haniyeh received a majority of the votes from the members of the movement’s supreme body, the Shura Council.
Haniyeh’s election represents closure for Hamas on two levels. Outgoing leader Khaled Meshaal had lived in Syria and then Qatar. Now, with the Meshaal era over, the movement’s leadership is returning to the Gaza Strip. In addition, the site on which the movement was founded by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the Shati refugee camp, is where Haniyeh was born.