Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei on Sunday warned the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas against any "compromise" in its fight against Tehran's nemesis Israel, his official website reported.
"Always be wary of infiltration by the compromisers in a resistance organization, which will gradually weaken it," Khamenei told the visiting Hamas Gaza prime minister Ismail Haniya, according to the leader.ir website.
"We have no doubt about your resistance and that of many of your brothers, and the people only have this expectation of you," said Khamenei, reaffirming that Iran "will always be alongside the Palestinian resistance."
Khamenei's comments come as divisions within Hamas have emerged on a possible overhaul of the organisation's strategy.
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal signed an agreement with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas earlier this month placing Abbas at the head of an interim government charged with organising elections later this year.
The agreement struck by Meshaal's foreign-based leadership with Abbas's Fatah faction has run into serious opposition from Hamas members inside the Gaza Strip, which the movement has controlled since ousting the president's loyalists in 2007.
In November, Meshaal called for "peaceful popular resistance," which would respresent a shift in the movement away from armed struggle.
He also expressed support for the establishment of a Palestinian state on territories occupied in 1967 in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem as its capital.
Haniya was quoted as telling Khamenei that the goal of Hamas remained "freedom of all the Palestinian land from the (Mediterranean) sea to the (Jordan) river, the refusal of peace talks and the Islamic character of the Palestinian struggle."
On Saturday, Haniya said in a speech in Tehran that Hamas "will never recognise Israel."
"They want us to recognise the Israeli occupation and cease resistance but, as the representative of the Palestinan people and in the name of all the world's freedom seekers, I am announcing from Azadi Square in Tehran that we will never recognise Israel," Haniya said.
Israel, which views Hamas as a terrorist organisation and Iran as its sponsor and weapons supplier, has warned Fatah against efforts to reconcile with the Islamist movement.
Follow Emirates 24|7 on Google News.