By TZVI JOFFRE
During a visit to Tehran, Hamas expressed a desire to strengthen relations between Iran and the terror group and to reach an agreement on a “joint defense alliance” with all the parties of the “axis of resistance,” according to the Lebanese Al-Akhbar newspaper.
The alliance would aim to help Hamas, the Islamic Republic, Syria and Hezbollah confront attacks in a coordinated manner.
The delegation visiting Iran is headed by deputy chairman of Hamas’s Political Bureau Saleh Al-Arouri and includes Head of Hamas Diaspora Office Maher Salah, Musa Abu Marzouk, Izzat Al-Rishq, Zaher Jabarinm, Hussam Badran, Usama Hamdan, Ismail Radwan and Khaled Qaddoumi, Hamas’s representative to Iran.
Al-Arouri presented the Iranians with a letter from Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, thanking Iran for “its efforts in supporting the Palestinian cause” and asking for more support to “face the suffocating Israeli siege.” The letter also emphasized Hamas’ solidarity with Iran against American and Israeli policies.
Haniyeh was unable to be a part of the delegation since Egypt refused to allow him to exit the Gaza Strip.
The report also addressed relations between Syria and Hamas, saying that while the terror movement and Syrian officials have attempted to reestablish relations, “the issue is still complicated” as “Hamas is evading responding to the Syrian demand that the movement apologize for its departure [from Syria],” according to Al-Akhbar.
Hamas’s refusal to support the regime of Bashar Assad in the civil war that erupted in Syria in 2011 prompted the Syrians to cut their relations with the movement, forcing its senior leaders to leave the country. The Syrians have also accused Hamas of supporting anti-regime terrorist groups.
In an interview with Al Mayadeen, Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem reaffirmed that Hamas is becoming closer with Syria after revisions carried out within the movement and that it is important for Hezbollah to remain part of the axis of resistance and to help restore relations between Hamas and Syria.
Al-Akhbar reported that Hamas felt satisfied with statements made by Iranian officials throughout the visit.
During the visit, Hamas officials met with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei for the first time since the terror movement’s exit from Syria in 2012.
Khamenei praised the Hamas terrorist group and the “resistance of the Palestinian people” during the meeting, saying, “victory will not be achieved without resistance and struggle,” according to a press release on Khamenei’s website. He added that the Palestinian cause is the “first and most important issue” in the Islamic world.
The Iranian leader expressed appreciation of the “good and important” position of Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, saying, “Hamas is at the heart of the Palestinian movement, as Palestine is at the heart of the movement of the Islamic world.”
“We have always stated our views on Palestine explicitly and clearly, and even in the international arena of our friends… they know that the Islamic republic is quite serious in the Palestinian affair,” Khamenei noted.
The leader of the Islamic republic added that Palestinians shouldn’t feel like their goals are unrealistic, using Iran as an example of such a transformation.
“Forty years ago, no one believed that a religious government would be established in Iran, which was the center of American influence and hope, or that the Israeli embassy would be turned into a Palestinian embassy, but this incredible transformation was achieved,” said Khamenei.
The adviser to the Supreme Leader for international affairs Ali Akbar Velayati said that the meeting with Hamas and Khamenei was a strategic turning point in relations between Iran and the Palestinians, according to Al Mayadeen. Velayati told Al-Arouri that the region would see more victories in favor of the resistance front.
Velayati added that recent developments in the region are “turning points in the history of militant Islam” and “symbols of Iranians’ and the resistance movement’s struggle against the arrogance of Zionism and the United States,” according to Radio Farda.
Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.