(photo credit: AP)
Hamas has decided to name Ismail Haniyeh prime minister in the new Palestinian Authority government, the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat reported Saturday.
However, Sheikh Yasser Mansour, number five on the Hamas national electoral list, has told The Jerusalem Post that "there has been no official decision to name Haniyeh prime minister.
"These are just media reports," said Mansour.
The pan-Arabic newspaper said that leaders of Hamas in the West Bank and abroad preferred Haniyeh as prime minister rather than Mahmoud A-Zahar, who is considered more radical.
Born in the Shati refugee camp, Haniyeh graduated from the Islamic University in Gaza City in 1987 with a degree in Arabic literature. He was deported by Israel to south Lebanon in 1992 and returned a year later to become the dean of the Islamic University.
At 46, the former soccer player said Tuesday that Hamas's victory reflected the Palestinians' confidence in its 'political and military strategy.'
'The people have said yes to change and reform,' Haniyeh said, referring to the name of his movement's list. 'The majority of the Palestinians have said yes to the slogan, 'Islam is the solution.' The people also voted in favor of our policy of resistance and against the occupation. Our policy is designed to defend Jerusalem, achieve the right of return for all refugees and the release of our prisoners.'
Meanwhile, a Hamas delegation reportedly conducted a secret visit to Jordan intended to pave the way for the return of exiled Hamas head Khaled Mashaal, who was deported from Jordan seven years ago.
Kuwait has also reported that it has been in contact with Hamas officials ahead of Mashaal's planned visit at the end of the month, Israel Radio said.