Hamas: 'We Won't Do Iran's Bidding'

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- In an interesting turnaround, Hamas says it will not get involved in a war between Israel and Iran.

"If there is a war between the two powers, Hamas will not be part of such a war," said senior Hamas official Salah Bardawil, the British Guardian reported Tuesday.

"Hamas is not part of military alliances in the region," he said, adding that "our strategy is to defend our rights."

Some analysts say political gains by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, following the fall of the Mubarak regime last year, have factored into the diminished ties with Iran. The Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and the Salafist al-Nour Party won 70 percent of Egypt's parliamentary seats. Hamas is an offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.

Iran recently sought to shore up ties with its Palestinian proxy by inviting Gaza-based Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh for a three-day visit last month.

For years, Iran funded, armed and trained Hamas in its war against Israel, just as it does its Lebanese-based proxy, Hezbollah. But according to Bardawil, some of that support has fallen off.

"In the early days of the blockade, the money [from Iran] was very good, but it was reduced two years ago," Bardawil said.

Meanwhile in January, exiled Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal quietly disbanded his headquarters in Damascus, citing security concerns.

At the end of January, Meshaal visited Jordan for the first time since the Hashemite Kingdom kicked him out in 1999. One Jordanian official said the visit was only meant to "break the ice."

"It will only break the ice following years of estrangement, but Hamas will not be allowed to reopen its offices in Jordan," The Associated Press reported at the time.

Two weeks ago, Hamas formally distanced itself from Syria, its former host and ally, when it publicly condemned the government's brutal crackdown against its people.

"The hearts of the Palestinian people bleed with every drop of blood shed in Syria," said Bardawil last month, Reuters reported. "No political considerations will make us turn a blind eye to what is happening on the soil of Syria," he said.

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