TEHRAN -- The Palestinian prime minister vowed his Hamas-led government will never recognize Israel and will fight for Jerusalem, telling a crowd at an Iranian mosque yesterday that he will resist US pressure to moderate.
Ismail Haniyeh's sermon came on the first day of his visit to an increasingly influential ally of the Hamas movement. Iran has given $120 million to the Hamas-led government, which is starved for funds because of a financial blockade by the West.
Hamas officials in Gaza said they expected Iran to pledge more money to Haniyeh, around $30 million a month. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcement had been made.
Haniyeh's visit came at a crucial time in efforts to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which hinges on whether Hamas and its moderate Fatah rival can form a national unity government. The Fatah party hopes Hamas will be sidelined enough in a new government to allow a resumption of negotiations.
The United States and other Western countries are pressing Hamas, which took over the Palestinian government after winning January elections, to recognize Israel and renounce violence.
Haniyeh said he would do no such thing, adopting his hosts' label of "the world arrogance" to refer to the United States during his sermon yesterday to thousands of worshipers at Tehran University.
"The world arrogance and Zionists . . . want us to recognize the usurpation of the Palestinian lands and stop jihad and resistance and accept the agreements reached with the Zionist enemies in the past," Haniyeh said, speaking in Arabic with a simultaneous translation into Farsi.
"We will never recognize the usurper Zionist government and will continue our jihad-like movement until the liberation of Jerusalem," he said.