Iran pledges continued support to the Palestinians

Hamas official Zahar holds talks with Iranian FM Salehi in effort to improve relations between the two sides.

Mahmoud al-Zahar smirking  (R) 311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Mahmoud al-Zahar smirking (R) 311
(photo credit: Reuters)
Iran pledged Thursday to continue supporting Hamas and the Palestinians.
The pledge was made during a visit to Tehran by senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar, who held talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi.
The visit is seen in the context of Hamas’s efforts to improve relations with Iran in wake of recent tensions between the two sides.
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.
Zahar has spoken out against the recent Qatari-brokered reconciliation pact that was signed between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal.
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.
The 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.
The 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.
Hamas Prime 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.
Meanwhile, Hamas 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.