Ahmadinejad to Haniyeh: Do not recognize Israel, continue fighting it

By Reuters


Kislev 19, 5767

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged visiting Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Saturday not to bow to pressure to recognize Israel and to keep fighting it, local media reported.

Haniyeh, on a four-day visit to one of the strongest backers of his Hamas government, thanked Iran for its support and vowed not to cede to Western demands that it renounce violence, recognize existing interim peace accords and recognize the Jewish state.

"The Iranian nation will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Palestinian people until Jerusalem is liberated... and will never fall short in any kind of support," Ahmadinejad told Haniyeh in Tehran, the semi-official ISNA students news agency reported.

Iran's support for the Palestinians has grown more vocal since Ahmadinejad came to power in August 2005. The former Revolutionary Guardsman has called the Israeli state a "tumor" which must be "wiped off the map".

Iran, like Hamas, refuses to recognize 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.

The United States and Israel accuse Iran of arming and training militant Palestinian groups such as Hamas. Iran denies the charge.

"In addition to not recognizing the occupying regime, the popular government of Palestine should... support the resistance of the Palestinian nation until the Palestinian ideal is realized," Ahmadinejad said.

"America as the main supporter of this fake regime (Israel) is deteriorating and becoming weak and the conspiracies of the enemies of Islam to break the resistance of the Palestinian nation will fail," he added.

Haniyeh, who is due to meet Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday, said his government had no intention of "recognizing the Jerusalem-occupying regime" and would back the Palestinian people's right to "resistance and to cancel the cruel and unfair (peace) agreements with that fake regime."

"The brave position of the Iranian president in giving reasonable and transparent support to the ideal of a Palestinian nation has brought honor and dignity to Muslims and warmed the hearts of the Palestinian warriors," he said, ISNA reported.