- Associated Press - Monday, July 22, 2019

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s supreme leader was quoted Monday as saying during a meeting with a delegation from the Palestinian militant group Hamas that his country won’t give up its stance in support of the Palestinians.

“Supporting Palestine is an ideological and religious matter,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, according to state TV.

The Hamas delegation was headed by its deputy chief, Saleh al-Arouri. The delegation also met with Kamal Kharrazi, an adviser to Khamenei.

The official Iranian news agency IRNA said al-Arouri’s visit to Tehran followed a visit by senior Iranian parliamentary official Hossein Amir-Abdollahian to Lebanon last week.

Iran backs both Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Iran and Hamas do not recognize Israel and have both called for its destruction.

Khamenei also denounced President Trump’s peace plan for the Mideast, calling it a dangerous conspiracy and urged followers not to allow it “to eliminate Palestinian identities by using money.”

Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, is returning to the Mideast at month’s end to promote the administration’s $50 billion economic support plan for the Palestinians.

The Palestinians have overwhelmingly rejected the plan because it ignores their political demands. Instead, it relies heavily on private sector investment in the West Bank, Gaza as well as Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.

The U.S. plan acknowledges its success depends on completing a long-elusive Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

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