Mahmoud al-Zahar smirking (R) 311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Iran pledged Thursday to continue supporting Hamas and the
The pledge was made during a visit to Tehran by senior
Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar, who held talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali
The visit is seen in the context of Hamas’s efforts to
improve relations with Iran in wake of recent tensions between the two
The tensions were triggered by Hamas’s refusal to support Syrian
President Bashar Assad, who has been facing a popular uprising against his
regime in the past year.
The Iranians have also expressed dissatisfaction
with Hamas’s rapprochement with Fatah. Zahar is among several Hamas leaders who
are also opposed to efforts to achieve reconciliation with Fatah.
has spoken out against the recent Qatari-brokered reconciliation pact that was
signed between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader
Sources close to Hamas in the Gaza Strip said that Zahar
traveled to Tehran to reassure the Iranians that his movement has not abandoned
the “armed resistance” against Israel despite the deal with Fatah.
sources said that Hamas was also concerned about Iran’s financial and military
aid to Islamic Jihad and other armed groups in the Gaza Strip.
sources quoted Zahar as telling the Iranian minister that Hamas remains
committed to its ideology and “Islamic resistance.”
Zahar is the second
top Hamas leader to visit Iran in the past few weeks.
Minister Ismail Haniyeh was in Tehran last month to attend celebrations marking
the 33rd anniversary of the Islamic revolution.
Hamas’s attempts to mend
fences with Iran come amid reports that Abbas and Mashaal are scheduled to renew
their efforts to form a Palestinian unity government.
officials in the Gaza Strip ruled out the possibility that Abbas and Mashaal
would be able to implement the Qatari-brokered agreement. The officials said
that the gap between the two sides remains as wide as ever, especially over the
make-up of the government and the issue of presidential and parliamentary
elections in the Palestinian territories.