Friday, December 08, 2006

Palestinian leader in Iran: "we will liberate Jerusalem"

Palestinians rally in favor of Hamas By AP AND JPOST STAFF Tens of thousands of Palestinians demonstrated on Friday afternoon in favor of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government, and demanded that PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh remain in power even if a unity government were established. Earlier Friday, Haniyeh vowed that the Hamas government would never recognize Israel and would continue to fight for the liberation of Jerusalem. "The world's arrogance (US) 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 told thousands of Friday prayer worshippers at Teheran University. The United States is pressing the Hamas-led Palestinian government to recognize Israel, renounce violence and form a national unity government with Fatah in a bid to revive the peace process with Israel. "I'm insisting from this podium that these issues won't materialize. We will never recognize the usurper Zionist government and will continue our jihad-like movement until the liberation of Jerusalem," he said. Haniyeh arrived in the Iranian capital on Thursday for a four-day visit for talks with Iranian leaders including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map." The PA prime minister is on his first tour abroad since his Hamas-led government took office in March. Haniyeh called Iran, a longtime ally of Hamas, the Palestinians' "strategic depth" because they were together in their fight against Israel. "They (Israelis) assume the Palestinian nation is alone. This is an illusion. ... We have a strategic depth in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This country (Iran) is our powerful, dynamic and stable depth," he said. Iran has provided the Hamas-led Palestinian government with US$120 million (€90.25 million) this year despite a US-led international financial boycott of the Palestinian government. The financial aid has boosted Iran's influence among Palestinians. Along with his meeting with Ahmadinejad, Haniyeh is scheduled to hold talks with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and former president Hashemi Rafsanjani during his visit.

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