Iran agrees to renew funding to Hamas — report
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Iran agrees to renew funding to Hamas — report

Gaza-based terror group's leader said set to travel to Tehran to mend ties

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, pictured here in Tehran with Prime Minister of Gaza Ismail Haniyeh, leads the world's largest Shia country. (photo credit: AP)
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, pictured here in Tehran with Prime Minister of Gaza Ismail Haniyeh, leads the world's largest Shia country. (photo credit: AP)

Iran has agreed in principle to renew its funding for the Hamas terror group, according to a report published in a London-based Arabic daily Tuesday.

Palestinian officials told Asharq al-Awsat that Ismail Haniyeh, the political leader of the Gaza-based terror group, will visit Tehran in the near future to bridge gaps between the parties and resolve old disagreements.

The deal to restore Hamas’s financial support came after marathon meetings in Lebanon between officials from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hamas, and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror group, the report said.

Relations between Iran and Hamas have been rocky since the outbreak of Syria’s civil war in 2011, when the Palestinian terror organization came out against Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is backed by Tehran.

The report also said Iran wanted Haniyeh to be the new head of Hamas, and would have refused to work with the terror organization had former deputy head Moussa Abu Marzouk won the elections earlier this month.

In a leaked phone conversation from January 2016, Abu Marzouk accused Iran of halting its financial support in 2009. “We haven’t gotten anything from them since 2009, and everything [the Iranians] are saying is a lie,” he was quoted as saying, although the recording was not dated.

But a Sunday Telegraph report in April 2015, which cited intelligence sources, claimed Iran has sent tens of millions of dollars to the Hamas military wing to help reconstruct tunnels used by the terror group in its operations against Israel, and to replenish its rocket arsenal. The Islamic Republic has also pledged to pay the families of Palestinian attackers killed in the wave of Palestinian stabbing, car-ramming and shooting attacks that erupted in October 2015.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh greets supporters during a rally to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the Hamas militant group in Jebaliya in the northern Gaza Strip, December 12, 2014 . (AP/Adel Hana)
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh greets supporters during a rally to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the Hamas militant group in Jebaliya in the northern Gaza Strip, December 12, 2014 . (AP/Adel Hana)

Tuesday’s report said that as part of the agreement to restore payments, Iran waived an earlier demand for Hamas to declare its support for Tehran in its struggle against Saudi Arabia.

Majority Shiite Iran and predominantly Sunni Saudi Arabia support opposite sides in the conflicts in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere in the Middle East.

The Palestinian sources added that Iran views the new agreement with Hamas as an opportunity to build a strong Sunni alliance as it continues its fight against the Gulf states, the Palestinian Authority, and other regional foes.

During his recent trip to Saudi Arabia, US President Donald Trump accused Tehran of spearheading global terror. Along with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, he called for the Islamic Republic to be shunned.

“From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms and trains terrorists, militias and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region,” Trump said.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi dismissed the accusations during a press briefing on Monday.

“These improper, incorrect and irrelevant positions of certain countries are nothing new and they try to project the blame on others and such remarks are unbelievable and unacceptable,” he said.

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