TEL AVIV, Israel – Hamas has rejected an Iranian offer to upgrade its relations with Tehran in exchange for an overt condemnation of Saudi Arabia, sources in Hamas told Breitbart Jerusalem.
Last week, citing Hamas sources, Breitbart Jerusalem reported that Iran had offered to recognize Hamas as the sole representative of the Palestinian people – at the PLO’s expense – if the movement allies itself with Tehran in the larger Shiite-Sunni conflict that has sown deep divisions in the Muslim world.
Hamas officially told Iran that it would remain neutral, even at the price of waiving much-needed financial support, the sources said.
Iran’s offer was attractive to Hamas, the sources told Breitbart Jerusalem, because it would have returned Hamas’ payroll and armaments to the levels that preceded Iran’s cessation of financial support.
However, an overt anti-Saudi stance risks alienating crucial allies in the Arab world.
This worries Hamas political chief Khaled Mashaal and other Hamas officials outside Gaza, the sources said, who believe that even though the relationship with Sunni and the Gulf countries is not lucrative, the advantages it brings are significant and should not be dismissed.
Hamas Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri refused to comment on the report.
Iran’s offer to Hamas came just days before international sanctions on Iran were lifted after the country was declared by the International Atomic Energy Agency to have fulfilled its obligations under the US-brokered nuclear accord.
However, due to Tehran’s recent ballistic missile tests, the Obama administration announced on Sunday that it would impose new sanctions against 11 individuals and entities involved in the missile program. The move will have little financial impact on Tehran.
Fox News reported on Monday that the largely symbolic sanctions were delayed after Iran’s foreign minister warned the move could derail the prisoner deal announced over the weekend.
On Sunday, three Iranian prisoners were freed and reportedly arrived in Germany. The freed prisoners are Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, Marine veteran Amir Hekmati, and Christian pastor Saeed Abedini.