Tehran Qods Conference Nets Funding for Hamas
An important chain of events over the weekend emanated from the Tehran-sponsored and hosted International Conference on Qods and Support for the Rights of Palestinian People. First was Iran’s open pledge of $50 million to Hamas to fill the void left in the wake of withheld international funds. This is more than a token amount, but will not go far as the economic gap without EU and US funding and Israeli tax collections is estimated to be around $1 billion annually.
Iran’s pledge was followed on by Russia, who declared they would support Hamas but did not release any funding amount. Syria pledged a less direct avenue: A telethon, of sorts, where they will set up a state bank account for ‘receiving donations’ for Hamas. US regional ally Qatar also pledged $50 million to the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority.
Iran’s role in orchestrating financial support for Hamas does not come without strings and price tags. This flurry of funding pledges over the weekend is significant, especially when considering Khalid Meshaal’s accompanying declaration that Hamas will never recognize Israel, following weeks of ambiguity on the issue from Hamas. Suddenly, Iran has organized a wave of financial support as efficiently as the pledges from the Arab League itself.
Not many news outlets have taken note of Iran’s hosting of the Third International Conference on Qods and Support for the Rights of Palestinian People. Do a Google News search for International Conference on Qods and Support for the Rights of Palestinian People. As of Monday morning, only two sites were listed among the first entire page of links: Iran’s state-run IRNA and MehrNews. This is unfortunate considering the importance the conference plays in Iran’s increasingly open co-opting of the Palestinian issue for their own strategic gain and their increasing influence within the Sunni Hamas.
It is a significant concert of events in that it demonstrates Iran’s heavy influence within Hamas and the region as a whole, most visible through Hamas’ emboldened declaration that they will never recognize Israel.