Haniyeh In Qatar, Hamas Says Deputy Leader Will Return To Gaza

Political bureau member of Hamas Ezzet al-Resheq said in a tweet that Haniyeh arrived in Doha on a visit from Saudi Arabia, where he had performed Hajj. Haniyeh had left the Gaza Strip about two weeks ago via the Rafah border crossing en route to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj. According to Anadolu Agency, Hamas has reiterated that the group’s deputy leader, Ismail Haniyeh, will return to the Gaza Strip following his current visit to Qatar.

Haniyeh left Gaza earlier this month for Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj (pilgrimage) amid reports that he plans to vie for the presidency of Hamas political bureau in upcoming internal polls to succeed the movement’s political chief, Khaled Meshaal.

“Haniyeh will hold meetings with his brothers in the leadership [in Doha] and will return to Gaza after the visit,” Hamas said in a statement late Saturday.

The statement, however, gave no date for Haniyeh’s return to the Palestinian territory.

Hamas deputy chief Moussa Abu Marzouk also denied Haniyeh’s plans to stay outside Gaza.

“The issue of Haniyeh’s staying in another country is not up for discussion and it is premature to talk about Hamas internal election,” he told the pro-Hamas Al-Aqsa TV.

Abu Marzouk insisted that Haniyeh only left Gaza for performing Hajj, which ended last week.