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Iran urges Hamas to continue fight against Israel

LAST UPDATED: 2:46 a.m. HST, Feb 12, 2012

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's supreme leader has urged the Hamas prime minister of Gaza to continue the Islamist militant group's resistance against Israel.

Iranian state TV quoted Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as telling Ismail Haniyeh on Sunday that people expect Hamas to continue its fight against Israel.

Khamenei said that late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat lost his popularity because he distanced himself from resistance.

Haniyeh said that liberating all of Palestine, rejecting peace talks and considering the Palestinian issue an Islamic one are his main strategies.

However, Hamas' top leader, Khaled Mashaal, has been leading a shift, seeking reconciliation with Palestinian rival Mahmoud Abbas, a proponent of negotiations, and endorsing nonviolence as an important tool.

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