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Ismail Haniyeh

[1963-] Palestinian political figure. Haniyeh, who is from the Gaza Strip, is a senior leader of Hamas. He became politically active during his university days and was jailed several times during the First Intifada. Haniyeh was one of the 415 Palestinians deported to South Lebanon during the 1992 Mass Deportation. In 1997, he headed the office of the newly released Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. His prominence grew during the Second Intifada, due partly to his close relationship with Yassin, and partly to Israel’s attempts to assassinate him. In December 2005, Haniyeh was elected to head the Hamas list, which was victorious in the January 2006 legislative elections, ushering in his term as Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority. In 2007, during the Hamas-Fatah conflict, Mahmoud Abbas dismissed Haniyeh from his post, appointing Salam Fayyad in his place, a move that has been disputed as being illegal. Hamas continued to govern Gaza, however, with Haniyeh as the Prime Minister. Haniyeh is thought to have considerable wealth, much of it allegedly coming from taxes imposed upon the Gaza Tunnels. Considered a pragmatist, Haniyeh has indicated openness to negotiating with Israel, if and when Israel recognizes the rights of Palestinians. See "Rebel without a state: Evgeny Lebedev meets Ismail Haniyeh, Prime Minister of Gaza," The Independent, Jan 7, 2012.

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