DOHA, (Reuters) – Hamas will ask Arab and Muslim states for political and financial support to counter threats from the West to halt Palestinian aid, a top official said on Thursday.
Khaled Meshaal, politburo chief of the Palestinian militant group, told state-run Qatar News Agency that Hamas would also travel to several other countries to drum up support, adding that the Palestinians “were not begging from anyone”.
On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Condolezza Rice said that international aid could not flow to Hamas unless it recognises Israel’s right to exist. Israel’s foreign minister also urged the world to isolate a Hamas-led government.
“We are confident that Arab and Muslim countries will stand by Hamas and support the Palestinian people to respond to calls for punishing them,” Meshaal told state-run Qatar News Agency, QNA, during a visit to staunch U.S. ally Qatar.
“We know that Qatar will be at the forefront of these (Arab and Muslim) countries and all other countries we will visit,” he added, without giving any details about the tour.
Hamas, which won a landslide victory against the mainstream Fatah movement in last month’s parliamentary polls, is expected to form a new Palestinian government soon.
The United States and the European Union have called on Hamas to renounce violence and disarm militants.
Hamas, which staged several suicide attacks in Israel, has said it would not bow to international pressure to recognise the Jewish state. It said threats to block aid to the Palestinians amount to blackmail.
The Hamas delegation is expected to visit other U.S.-allied Gulf Arab countries which have in the past been generous donors to the Palestinians.
The United States has made clear it will not deal with a Hamas-led government. The State Department has begun a review of all U.S. aid to the Palestinians and is trying to work out how to continue the funding without giving assistance to Hamas.