Head of Hamas political bureau Ismail Haniyeh has decided to settle outside Gaza for a long period, extending to late 2020 or 2021, according to Hamas officials.
Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that this decision is related to internal arrangements within Hamas and others related to complications on his movement from and to the Strip.
They denied claims that Egypt might have prevented Haniyeh from returning to Gaza, saying he didn't have such plans.
According to the sources, Haniyeh has decided to settle in Qatar for the time being and it is not yet known whether his family will join him or not.
Hamas's affirmation that Haniyeh will remain abroad comes in light of leaks about Egyptian dissatisfaction with his visit to Iran.
He has drawn Egypt's fire by traveling to Iran to take part in the funeral ceremonies for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani, who was assassinated by US raid in Baghdad on Jan. 3, Israeli media reported.
Palestinian sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Egypt was not okay with this visit but matters were eventually settled.
Meanwhile, Hamas political bureau member Khalil al-Hayya said Haniyeh’s Iranian visit had caused tensions with Egypt.
“Our brothers in Egypt rebuked us for visiting Iran, but [Hamas] has its independent stance,” Hayya said.
During his visit to Iran, Haniyeh delivered a speech in which he called Soleimani “the martyr of Jerusalem.”
Hamas justified the visit as recognition of Soleimani's role in supporting the “resistance.”
Haniyeh started a foreign tour on December 2 with a visit to Cairo. This is his first tour since he assumed Hamas' leadership in May 2017.
Earlier, he visited Turkey, Qatar, Oman, Iran, and Malaysia. Haniyeh seeks to visit other countries, such as Russia, Lebanon, Mauritania, and Kuwait.
“Haniyeh will remain abroad and continue to run Hamas until he has completed all the tasks and all the goals of his foreign tour,” Hamas reported.