No ‘radical change’ despite new extremist leader, Hamas official says
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No ‘radical change’ despite new extremist leader, Hamas official says

Hamas movement is 'institutional' says Moussa Abu Marzouk, after election of convicted murderer Yahya Sinwar

Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent.

Yahya Sinwar (screenshot)
Yahya Sinwar (screenshot)

A senior Hamas leader said Monday that the terror group’s newly elected leadership will not bring “radical change.”

The statement followed the reported election of hard-line Yahya Sinwar, a convicted murderer who is on the US terrorism blacklist, as Hamas’s new chief in Gaza.

“The Hamas movement is institutional, and a change of leadership is not something that will bring radical change of its policies,” Moussa Abu Marzouk told the Pan-Arab news channel al-Araby.

Marzouk did not mention Sinwar by name during the interview.

Sinwar’s election has not yet been officially confirmed by Hamas.

Sinwar, 55, generally avoids the limelight, but is seen as an unpredictable hardliner who inspires the loyalty of Hamas’s military wing’s leadership.

Palestinian Ambassador to Russia Abed al-Hafeez Nofal (L) and Hamas deputy leader Moussa Abu Marzouk hold a press conference in Moscow on January 17, 2017 (AFP PHOTO/Alexander NEMENOV)
Palestinian Ambassador to Russia Abed al-Hafeez Nofal (L) and Hamas deputy leader Moussa Abu Marzouk hold a press conference in Moscow on January 17, 2017 (AFP PHOTO/Alexander NEMENOV)

He will replace Ismail Haniyeh, who is running for the leadership of Hamas’s political bureau to succeed Khaled Mashaal.

During the al-Araby interview, Marzouk also said that Hamas wanted the Rafah crossing with Egypt, which is currently only opened in short bursts, to become an international crossing, open in “a natural way.”

He labeled as “delusional solutions” calls to recognize Israel or give it Palestinian lands.

In a recent interview with Al Jazeera, Marzouk said Hamas was willing to build a Palestinian state on the lines of the 4th of June ’67, including Jerusalem, with the “right of return for Palestinians.”

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