Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei 521 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Sunday voiced his country’s full support
for Hamas in its fight against Israel and said Tehran considers the Palestinian
issue an “Islamic cause.”
Khamenei’s remarks came during a meeting with
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who is currently on an official visit to
The meeting between Khamenei and Haniyeh was the first of its kind
since the latter assumed office after his movement won the January 2006
“Iran will always be supportive of the
Palestinian cause and the Islamic resistance in Palestine,” the Tehran-based
Mehr News Agency quoted Khamenei as saying.
Khamenei added that the
“recent victories in Palestine were partially responsible for the Islamic
awakening in the region” – a reference to the rise to power of Islamists in a
number of Arab countries, including Tunisia and Egypt.
accumulating sentiments of the region’s peoples toward the cause of the Gaza
Strip led to the sudden eruption of the volcano in the region,” the Iranian
leader told Haniyeh.
Khamenei also warned against attempts by unnamed
parties to “undermine” Hamas, but did not elaborate.
“We have no doubt
about your resistance and that of many of your brothers, and the people only
have this expectation of you,” he said.
Haniyeh, for his part, thanked
the Iranian leadership for its “ongoing” support of Hamas and the Palestinian
cause. Invited to Iran to participate in celebrations marking the 33rd
anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, he underlined the three strategies of his
government: “liberating Palestine from the sea to the river, abiding by the
resistance and affirming the Islamic character of the Palestinian
The visit came amid deepening divisions within Hamas over last
week’s Qatari-sponsored reconciliation agreement
between the movement and Fatah.
The deal calls for naming Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as prime
minister of a new Palestinian unity government.
Hamas leader Khaled
Mashaal has come under sharp criticism
for signing the pact.
weekend, Mahmoud Zahar, a top Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, came out
publicly against Mashaal, saying the agreement had been a
While Zahar and most of the Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip
expressed opposition to the deal under the pretext that it included far-reaching
concessions to Abbas and Fatah, representatives of the movement in the West Bank
A Hamas official in Ramallah said Zahar’s criticism
“reflected only his personal opinion.”
The official, who asked not to be
identified, also lashed out at Haniyeh for visiting Iran “at this very sensitive
period.”He and other Hamas officials have noted that the visit came at a time
when other Hamas leaders were trying to distance themselves from Iran and
The official expressed concern that the Iranians, in return for
providing financial and military aid, would ask the Islamist group to support
Syrian President Bashar Assad.