Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh says his Hamas-led government will never recognize Israel and will continue to fight for the liberation of Jerusalem.
Addressing worshippers at Friday prayers in Tehran, Mr. Haniyeh said Hamas would not give in to U.S. and Zionist pressure to stop the jihad and resistance. He said Hamas will never recognize what he called "the usurpation of Palestinian land" or accept previous peace agreements with Israel.
Mr. Haniyeh's visit underscores growing Iranian influence in the region. Iran has close ties with two of Israel's arch enemies: Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon. That is of deep concern to Israel, and also to Palestinian moderates, like human rights activist Bassam Eid.
"No doubt that Iran is playing a, let's say, very bloody role in the region here. And I am really so surprised [at] how the Hamas movement is trying to take care on the [getting involved in] Iranian interests rather than on the Palestinian interests," he said.
Israel sees Iran's alliance with Hamas and Hezbollah as especially dangerous in light of the Iranian nuclear program. It was just over a year ago that Iran's president threatened to wipe Israel off the map.
"I think that we all agree that first and foremost, Iran cannot be nuclear," says Israeli spokeswoman Miri Eisen. "I think this is something that there is great agreement on it in the international community."
But Israel believes that the Western powers are moving way too slowly. It has warned that if the international community does not take tough action to stop Iran's nuclear program, Israel might act on its own.