US President's envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
(photo credit: AFP PHOTO / PPO / THAER GHANAIM)
WASHINGTON — Hamas is "begging Iran" for help in its armed resistance against Israel, a senior Trump administration official said on Monday, addressing the visit of several Hamas leaders to Tehran over the weekend.
One eve of Gaza reconciliation, Hamas frees Fatah men, October 1, 2017. (Reuters)
Their visit comes amid talk of Palestinian reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, which have split rule over the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank, respectively, for nearly a decade.
Fatah is committed to a peaceful, political path forward in its fight for Palestinian statehood. Hamas– considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the US and other Western powers– believes that violence is the right path forward in its efforts to "destroy Israel" and claim Palestine their own.
"Hamas, which has only brought ruin and misery to Palestinians, now begs Iran for help and again vows to destroy Israel," wrote Jason Greenblatt, the US' special representative for international negotiations, on Twitter. "Palestinians deserve so much better than this. We must find a better path forward toward peace and prosperity."
Fatah leaders in the Palestinian Authority are trying to reclaim control over Gaza, but Hamas is drawing a red line, refusing to relinquish security control over the coastal strip. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri drew a clear distinction between its potential reconciliation with Fatah and its policy regarding Israel on his visit to Tehran this weekend.
"Support of the resistance is one thing and Palestinian reconciliation is another thing, related to the civil side in the Palestinian sphere," he said.
Hamas officials have in recent days recommitted the group to the destruction of the Jewish state through violent means.
Hamas Deputy Chairman Salih al-Arouri said that Iran agreed to continue to support "Palestine and the resistance" after meeting with senior Iranian officials in Tehran including Ali Akbar Velayati, a top adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“The main result [of our meetings] is the continuation of the Islamic Republic [of Iran]’s commitment towards Palestine and the resistance in Palestine…We hope this support will continue and grow until the resistance will be able to defeat the occupation,” Arouri said in an interview on Sunday with Iran’s al-Alam TV, referring to Hamas’s armed wing, the Ezzeldin Qassam Brigades.
Iran has long supported the Qassam Brigades, which is comprised of some 25,000 members who have fought in three wars with Israel over the past ten years.
According to Arouri as well as Hamas Chief in Gaza Yahya Sinwar, Iran is the biggest backer of the Qassam Brigades.
Arouri also responded to Israeli criticism of his visit to Tehran, saying that Hamas undertakes many actions and holds multiple positions that do not please Israel.
Greenblatt is in the region meeting with Israeli and Palestinian officials as part of his ongoing effort to restart peace talks.Ben Lynfield contributed to this report.