The militant Islamic Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip will announce the results of their internal elections next month, an official said Saturday, ending a month’s long voting process that will define strategy for the group.
Hamas insists it will not formally renounce violence or recognize Israel - conditions set by the international community for ending its boycott of the group. In its founding charter, Hamas says that it is committed to Israel’s destruction, and the group has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings, shootings and other attacks on buses, cafes and elsewhere.
Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007 after ousting the secular Palestinian Fatah party in bloody street battles.
The Hamas official said the group will announce results of its election for its leadership in early June. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to discuss the issue with the media.
The secretive voting process selects the members who will shape Hamas’ policies. For years, Hamas has argued that only violence against Israel could force the Jewish state to make serious concessions for Palestinians. But the group’s rhetoric - and actions - have softened over the past year as officials have seen the power of popular uprisings to change governments throughout the Arab world.
The election was held for the group’s powerful Shura Council, which in turn elects the politburo. Elections are held every four years.
Voting was held in both Gaza and the West Bank, which is ruled by rival secular Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas.