The European Union and the United States could be pushing Hamas into the welcoming arms of Iran if they decide to carry out threats to cut aid to the Palestinian Authority.
If Hamas does not renounce violence and the EU cuts aid, the militant group may look to Iran
Ismail Haniya, set to be named Palestinian Prime Minister, said Thursday that a Hamas government would rely on help from the Muslim world if the West acts on threats to axe funds once it takes office.
Hamas, set to form their first government after a landslide election win last month, faces the threat if it does not renounce its violent struggle for a separate viable Palestinian state and refuses to recognize Israel.
The Islamist movement, which is behind dozens of suicide attacks in a five-year uprising in the Middle East, has raised fears in the European Union and United States of an institutionalized revolt against the peace process in the region and the possible introduction of a fundamentalist state apparatus similar to the set-up in Tehran.
Haniya, however, a softly-spoken former university administrator who headed Hamas's list of parliamentary candidates, said the Islamist movement was well placed to do a better job of government than its predecessors from Fatah.
Arab and Muslim states will not abandon Hamas
Ismail Haniya believes Hamas will not be isolated if aid is cut
"Firstly, by establishing a sound and transparent financial base, we will be able to make many economies," said Haniya. "Secondly, we think that the Arab and Muslim countries, at both an official level and among the members of the public, do not want to abandon us," he added in response to questions about the threats to cut funds.
Haniya said that "international institutions, such as the World Bank, have assured us that they will maintain the finances of projects which they are supervising in the Palestinian territories."
The possibility of a funding cut has raised speculation that Hamas could turn to Iran, one of its main diplomatic allies, to plug the finance gap.
Haniya said that a Hamas delegation would travel to Iran shortly as part of a tour of Arab and Islamic countries. This delegation, which has already visited Egypt, Qatar and Turkey "would also visit Iran, Malaysia and South Africa."
Extended links with Tehran worry West
As in the Gaza Strip, hatred for the US is rife in Iranian militant circles
The EU and the United States, already locked in a bitter stand-off with Iran over its nuclear ambitions, would be extremely concerned by a turn of events which would see Tehran develop financial and possibly stronger ideological ties with a militant Palestinian government.
The Europeans and Americans could therefore find themselves in a quandary regarding the financial aid to the Palestinian Authority under Hamas.
Keep the aid flowing without receiving the compromises from the militants in a bid to avoid Iranian involvement and the West would be seen as having double-standards when dealing with terrorist organizations.
Cut the aid and the West could then face an expanded support network for Iran in the region and possible meddling in the already volatile situation between the Palestinians and Iran’s most hated enemy, Israel.