Iran's supreme leader called on Muslim nations Monday to provide annual financial aid to a Hamas-led Palestinian government and supported the radical group's refusal to recognize Israel.
Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal and other officials were in Iran - a top backer of Hamas - in the latest stop of a tour of Arab and Islamic nations aimed at drumming up support as Israel and the United States move to cut off money to the Palestinians.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas will meet Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip Monday afternoon to officially ask the Islamic group to form the next government.
Hamas chose Ismail Haniyeh as its candidate for prime minister.
The group will meet leaders from other Palestinian factions to discuss the formation of new government. Hamas has said it will seek to form a broad coalition that will include members from all parliament factions.
Fatah met legislators from four main factions on Sunday ahead of coalition talks with Hamas.
Khaled Mashaal and Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (Photo: AP)
In Syria, Mashaal discussed financial aid with Turkish officials. Hamas is also planning a visit to Kuwait where it hopes the oil-rich Gulf country will compensate the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority after Israel announced it is freezing monthly tax repayments.
Jordan trip cancelled
The Arab League is expected to announce a USD 50 million monthly aid package to the Palestinian Authority to cover the wages of government workers.
In another development, the London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Hayat reported Monday that Hamas officials canceled a trip to Jordan after Amman refused to welcome Khaled Mashaal who was banned in 1998 after a Mossad attempt on his life.
Amman agreed that Mashaal’s deputy Moussa Abu Marzouk leads the delegation.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who will visit Egypt on Tuesday and travel to Saudi Arabia and to a regional meeting in the United Arab Emirates, will lobby states to deny aid to a Hamas-led Palestinian government and push Iran to curb its nuclear plans.
Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt said it planned to support Hamas financially, according to the al-Halig newspaper in the United Arab Emirates.
Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader Dr. Isam al-Arian said that his organization will back Hamas on all levels to deal with external pressures and threats to end aid to the Palestinian people.
Roee Nahmias and AP contributed to the report