larijani grin 248 88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Iran is exerting heavy pressure on Hamas not to accept the Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire with Israel, an Egyptian government official said on Sunday.
The official told The Jerusalem Post by phone that two senior Iranian officials who visited Damascus recently warned Hamas leaders against accepting the proposal.
His remarks came as Hamas representatives met in Cairo with Egyptian Intelligence Chief Gen. Omar Suleiman and his aides to discuss ways of ending the fighting in the Gaza Strip.
The Hamas representatives reiterated their opposition to a cease-fire that did not include the reopening of all the border crossings into the Gaza Strip, Hamas spokesmen said on Sunday.
The spokesmen said Hamas voiced its strong opposition to the idea of deploying an international force inside the Gaza Strip.
The Egyptian official said that the two Iranian emissaries, Ali Larijani, Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, and Said Jalili of the Iranian Intelligence Service, met in the Syrian capital with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and Islamic Jihad Secretary-General Ramadan Shallah.
"As soon as the Iranians heard about the Egyptian cease-fire initiative, they dispatched the two officials to Damascus on an urgent mission to warn the Palestinians against accepting it," the Egyptian government official told the Post.
"The Iranians threatened to stop weapons supplies and funding to the Palestinian factions if they agreed to a cease-fire with Israel. The Iranians want to fight Israel and the US indirectly. They are doing this through Hamas in Palestine and Hizbullah in Lebanon".
The official pointed out that the Iranians were applying "double standards" regarding the current conflict - on the one hand, they encouraged Iranian men to volunteer to fight alongside Hamas; on the other hand, Iran's spiritual leader, Ali Khamenei, told the volunteers that they would not be permitted to join the fight against Israel.
"The Iranians never fired one bullet at Israel," he said. "But now they are trying to appear as if they are participating in the war against Israel. The leaders of Teheran don't care about the innocent civilians who are being killed in the Gaza Strip".
The Egyptian official accused Iran of "encouraging" Hamas to continue firing rockets at Israel with the hope that this would trigger a war that would divert attention from Iran's nuclear plans.
"This conflict serves the interests of the Iranians," he said. "They are satisfied because the violence in the Gaza Strip has diverted attention from their nuclear ambitions. The Iranians are also hoping to use the Palestinian issue as a 'powerful card' in future talks with the Americans.
"They want to show that they have control over Hamas and many Palestinians".
Karam Jaber, editor of the semi-official Egyptian weekly Roz Al-Youssef magazine, said that Hamas was caught between the Syrian anvil and the Iranian hammer. The Iranians, he said, prevented Hamas from negotiating a cease-fire with Israel, while the Syrians were blackmailing and intimidating the Hamas leaders in Damascus.
"History won't forget to mention that Hamas had inflicted death and destruction on the Palestinians," he said. "We hope that Hamas has learned the lesson and realizes that it has been fighting a war on behalf of others. We hope the Hamas leaders will realize that they are fighting a destructive war on behalf of the Iranians and Syrians".
Egyptian political analyst Magdi Khalil said he shared the view of the Palestinian Authority and Egypt that Hamas was responsible for the war in the Gaza Strip. "Ever since Hamas seized control over the Gaza Strip in 2007, they turned the area into hell," he said. "They imposed restrictions on the people there and even prevented them from performing the pilgrimage to Mecca".
The analyst said that the head of the Egyptian General Intelligence Service was right when he recently described Hamas as a group of gangsters. "Hamas and its masters in Damascus and Teheran want to spread chaos in Egypt," he said. "They want to solve the problem of the Gaza Strip by handing the area over to Egypt. They want to create a homeland for the Palestinians in Sinai".
He said that Hamas was not only jeopardizing Egypt's national security, but had also destroyed the Palestinians' dream of statehood. "By endorsing the Iranian agenda, Hamas has brought the Iranians to Egypt's eastern border," he said. "Hamas has also copied Hizbullah's policy of entering into pointless adventures".