Deputy Hamas leader Salah al-Aruri stressed on Saturday that the group would never agree to sever its ties with Iran and give up the armed struggle as prerequisites for talks with Israel.
Aruri is heading a high-ranking Hamas delegation which arrived in Tehran on Friday and is meeting with local leaders to discuss its reconciliation efforts with rival faction Fatah.
His comments came during a meeting with Ali Akbar Velayati, a top advisor to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and were quoted by the semiofficial Iranian news agency Fars.
Referring to talks with Fatah in Cairo, Aruri said that Israel had set three preconditions for talks, including the disarmament of Hamas, recognition of Israel and cutting ties with Iran.
"In response to the first prerequisite that was disarmament of Hamas, we have declared that we don’t accept it at all," he said, according to Fars, adding that the second precondition was also rejected as Hamas is now fighting “to annihilate the Zionist regime.”
"Our presence in Iran is the practical denial of the third precondition that was cutting ties with Iran," Aruri stressed.
By meeting Iranian officials in Tehran, Hamas blatantly ignores Israel's demand that it cut off ties with Tehran or Israel will not recognize any unity Palestinian government.
Hamas has already rejected Israel's demand and accused the “Zionist regime” of intervening in internal Palestinian affairs.
Hamas and Iran had been at odds over the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. As a result of Hamas’s refusal to support Assad in the uprising, an angry Iran reportedly stopped supplying the terror group with weapons.
This past summer, however, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh thanked Iran for its "unlimited" support for the Al-Qassam Brigades and its contribution to the development of Hamas's military capabilities, an indication that the rift was over.