Hamas denies reports that politburo chief lost more influence

Hamas denies reports that politburo chief lost more influence

Hamas on Wednesday denied Israeli reports that the Gaza-based leaders became influential on the Islamic movement's armed wing and budget, stripping the exiled leader Khaled Mashaal off power, Xinhua reported.

"The Israeli media reports regarding the movement's internal elections are pure fabrications that aim to distort the image of Hamas," said Salah Al-Bardaweel, a Hamas official.

On Wednesday, Israel's Haaretz newspaper reported that the results of Hamas' secret elections keep Mashaal in his post as the movement's politburo chief, but decreasing his influence on the armed wing and the movement's budget.

Hamas took over Gaza after it routed forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas of the rival Fatah party in 2007.

Hamas refuses to release the outcomes of its elections to the public, and Al-Bardaweel said that the Israeli reports came as an attempt to know the results.

Mashaal started to lose influence after he had to leave his longtime base in Damascus, Syria. In February, many Gaza officials slammed Mashaal for signing a Qatari-brokered deal with Abbas. The agreement, known as the Doha declaration, is designed to restore political unity to Gaza and the West Bank, but it was not yet implemented on the ground.

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