An Iranian official on Monday rejected reports that Tehran has ceased funding the Palestinian terror group Hamas, and stressed that supporting the fight against Israel remains a “principled policy,” the semi-official Tasnim news agency said.
Speaking at his weekly press conference in Tehran, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari rejected media reports that funding for the Gaza-based group ceased in 2009.
Ansari said that supporting “Palestinian resistance movements” is part of Iran’s foreign policy, according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.
He called the Palestinian issue “pivotal and basic” for Muslims, according to the agency.
Ansari’s comments contradict a phone conversation recently published by London-based daily A-Sharq al-Awsat in which senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk is heard to say: “We haven’t gotten anything from them since 2009, and everything [the Iranians] are saying is a lie.”
Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal has been reluctant to accept a recent offer for renewed financial aid from Shiite Iran, fearing that the group would lose its support among Sunni Arab states. Tehran’s offer, made on the condition that Hamas officially declare its allegiance to Iran and act as mediator to improve ties between the Islamic Republic and Sunni states such as Sudan, was ultimately rejected.
Relations between Iran and Hamas have been shaky since the outbreak of Syria’s civil war in 2011 when the Palestinian organization came out against Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Iran’s suspension of arms and money, and Hamas’s developing relationship with Sunni Saudi Arabia, casts doubt on speculation that Iran would use its post-sanction windfall to support Hamas.