TEHRAN,(Reuters) – Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh told Iranians on Friday that Palestinians would never bow to pressure to recognise Israel and would keep fighting thanks in part to support from Iran.
Addressing worshippers at Friday prayers in Tehran, where he arrived on Thursday for a four-day official visit, Haniyeh said Israeli military aggression against Palestinians had increased since his Hamas government took power in March.
Iran, like Hamas, refuses to recognise the state of Israel and has sent $120 million so far this year to the Palestinian Authority towards a shortfall caused by a Western financial blockade on the Hamas-led government. “We will never recognise the occupier of the Palestinian lands and will continue the resistance until we liberate Jerusalem … and allow the displaced Palestinians to return to their homeland,” Haniyeh said.
“They think that the Palestinian nation is alone in this war, but they are hallucinating … We have a strategic depth here in the Islamic Republic of Iran and throughout the Islamic-Arabic world,”he said.
Western nations and moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have pressured Hamas to recognise Israel, renounce violence and accept existing interim peace accords. Hamas’s refusal has been partly to blame for the collapse of unity government talks with Abbas.
Iran’s support for the Palestinians has grown more vocal since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power in August 2005. The former Revolutionary Guardsman has called the Israeli state a “tumour” which must be “wiped off the map”.
Tehran Friday prayer leader Ahmad Khatami reiterated Iran’s support for the Hamas government and criticised Western financial sanctions against it. “Those liars, instead of supporting and approving it (the Hamas government), have taken their swords aloft from the
beginning against a government that was appointed by the people’s votes,” he said.
Haniyeh will meet Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Ahmadinejad as part of his first official trip to Iran.