Iran's supreme leader vows not to give up on Palestine

In this picture released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks in a meeting with a group of clerics, in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, July 16, 2019. Khamenei said Tuesday his country will retaliate over the seizure of an Iranian supertanker carrying 2.1 million barrels of light crude oil. The vessel was seized with the help of British Royal Marines earlier this month off Gibraltar. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

TERHAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's supreme leader was quoted Monday as saying during a meeting with a delegation from the Palestinian militant group Hamas that his country won't give up its stand on Palestine.

"Supporting Palestine is an ideological and religious matter," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, according to the TV.

The Hamas delegation was headed by its deputy chief, Saleh al-Arouri. Al-Arouri's delegation also met with Kamal Kharrazi, an adviser to Khamenei.

The Iranian official news agency IRNA said al-Arouri's visit to Tehran followed a visit by senior Iranian parliamentary official Hossein Amir-Abdollahian to Lebanon last week.

Iran backs both Hamas and the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group. Iran and Hamas do not recognize Israel and have both called for its destruction.

Khamenei also denounced President Donald Trump's peace plan for the Mideast, calling it a dangerous conspiracy and urged followers not to allow it "to eliminate Palestinian identities by using money."

Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, is returning to the Mideast at month's end to promote the administration's $50 billion economic support plan for the Palestinians.

The Palestinians have overwhelmingly rejected the plan because it ignores their political demands. Instead, it relies heavily on private sector investment in the West Bank, Gaza as well as Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.

The plan acknowledges its success depends on completing a long-elusive Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.