Khaled Mashaal
Khaled Mashaal Reuters

Iran has cut back its assistance to Hamas, the group's leader Khaled Mashaal is admitting.

Speaking in an interview with French television, Mashaal said that "Iran was once a main supporter of the movement, but today the scope of its support has changed and we are striving to diversify the sources of official and popular support."

At the same time, he denied reports that Iran's move stems from a disconnect between Hamas and the Islamic Republic, and noted that several Hamas delegations visited Tehran recently.

Iran was once a stronger supporter of Hamas, but the two have been at odds in recent years over the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. As a result of Hamas’ refusal to support Assad in the uprising, an angry Iran reportedly stopped supplying the terror group with weapons.

Nevertheless, the two sides have been getting closer over the past year. The speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, at one point boasted that Iran provided Hamas with the technology it has used to rain down rockets on Israel from Gaza, and Hamas later thanked Iran for providing the group with the rockets.

In the same interview, Mashaal revealed that preparations are under way for a possible meeting between him and Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas, head of Hamas's longtime rival Fatah, which would promote the implementation of the reconciliation agreement in the Palestinian arena.

"We are not interested in war, but are working to avoid one. It is Israel that occasionally threatens war," he claimed.

Mashaal also claimed that the intention of Israel to allow Jews to pray on the Temple Mount was the spark that ignited the current terrorist wave, which he called a “defensive battle, because we are defending our land and our holy places and we are the victims of Israeli aggression."

According to Mashaal, the international community has two choices: "To enable the Palestinian people to escape the occupation and the settlements and pressure Israel, or to support the Palestinian people's right to fight the occupation."