Hamas deputy leader to continue Iran ties and armed struggle
The deputy head of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas vowed to keep close ties with Israel's arch-enemy Iran and to maintain its weapons, Iranian media reported on Sunday, rejecting Israeli preconditions for any peace talks.
Hamas, which is designated as a terrorist group by Western countries and Israel, signed a reconciliation deal this month with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction.
"Undoubtedly, the Palestinian resistance forces will never give up ... their arms," the semi-official news agency Mehr quoted Saleh Arouri as saying at a meeting with the Iranian parliament's speaker Ali Larijani in Tehran.
Israel said on Tuesday it would not hold peace negotiations with a Palestinian government dependent on Hamas and demanded that Hamas recognise Israel, disarm, and sever its ties with Iran.
"Our presence in Iran is the practical denial of the third pre-condition – cutting ties with Iran," Arouri said earlier, quoted by Iran's Fars news agency.
In August, a Hamas leader said that Iran was again its biggest provider of money and arms after years of tension over the civil war in Syria. Hamas had angered Tehran by refusing to support its ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in the six-year-old civil war.
On Thursday a top American diplomat had reiterated Israel’s demands that Hamas disarm and recognise Israel.
"Any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognise the state of Israel, accept previous agreements and obligations between the parties – including to disarm terrorists – and commit to peaceful negotiations," Jason Greenblatt, President Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, said in a statement.
"If Hamas is to play any role in a Palestinian government, it must accept these basic requirements," he said.
Hamas hit back at what it called “blatant interference in Palestinian affairs”.
“It is the right of our people to choose its government according to their supreme strategic interests," senior Hamas official Bassem Naim told AFP.
Hamas has fought three wars with Israel since seizing the Gaza Strip from forces loyal to Western-backed President Abbas in 2007.