TEHRAN (AFP) -Iran has stepped up its aid to the Palestinians by donating some 120 million dollars to the Hamas-led government and is ready to give more, the Palestinian foreign minister said.
“Iran has handed out until now over 120 million dollars and will supply more aid. Its support is very important for us,” Mahmud Zahar said following talks with Iran’s top national security official Ali Larijani.
“Iran is a major actor in the region and if we can obtain the support of Arab and Islamic countries we will have the assurance that there will be no step backwards on the Palestinian issue,” he added.
The sum of 120 million is more than double the pledge of 50 million dollars made by Iran in April after the suspension of funding by the United States and European Union following Hamas’s election victory.
The Islamist Hamas, which is now engaged in talks over a national unity government with the secular Fatah, stands by its refusal to recognise Israel despite the aid freeze and international pressure.
Iran, which also does not recognise Israel, denies allegations that it supplies arms to Palestinian militant groups, saying its support is of a moral nature only.
“We stand by the side of Hamas and the Palestinian government in these dramatic times when the Palestinian people are subjected to an economic blockade,” said Larijani.
He added that Iran “supports the formation of a government of national unity in Palestine and supports a government that is supported by Hamas.”
Zahar had pledged in Tehran on Tuesday that the planned national unity government between Palestinian factions would maintain its Islamist predecessor’s refusal to recognise Israel.