Palestinian Militant Leaders Rally Behind Iran
Palestinian militant leaders have rallied behind Iran, vowing to resist pressure to recognise Israel and supporting the Islamic republic in its stand-off with the West over its nuclear programme.
Hamas supremo Khaled Meshaal vowed that the new Palestinian government will not recognise Israel, regardless of mounting international pressure on the militant group to do so -- sticking with the tough position supported by Iran's leadership.
"The pressure is aimed at making us change our political position, to recognise Israel and to give up the rights of the Palestinians. But Hamas will not give in to the pressure and will not recognise Israel," he told state television.
Syrian-based Meshaal is in Tehran to attend a conference organised by the regime on supporting the Palestinians.
He is also seeking Iranian funds to fill the gap left by the suspension of US and European aid to the Palestinian Authority. In a previous visit to Tehran, he declared his group formed a "united front" with Iran against Israel.
Meshaal repeated his view that is "is immoral and inhumane to collectively punish a nation which practises democracy."
Islamic Jihad chief Abdullah Ramadan Shala also joined Hamad by vowing his Palestinian militant group would stand by Iran in the event of any military action by the United States or Israel. READ MORE
The United States accuses Iran of using an atomic energy drive as a mask for weapons development, and tensions are escalating amid Iran's refusal to freeze uranium enrichment work -- which can be extended to make the fissile core of a bomb.
Last weekend US news reports said President George W. Bush's administration was refining plans for preventive strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities, something Bush has called "wild speculation".
"Any threat to the Islamic republic is a threat to the Palestinians, and Iran will not be alone in facing these threats. And any aggression against Iran is an aggression against the Palestinians," The Islamic Jihad leader said.
On the opening day of the conference on Friday, Iran's hardline leaders launched a string of vitriolic attacks against the United States and Israel, voicing "serious doubts" over the Holocaust and predicting the "elimination" of the Jewish state.
"The Zionist regime is an injustice and by its very nature a permanent threat," firebrand President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the gathering.