Iran Welcomes Israel-Gaza Cease-fire, but Not 'Optimistic' It Will Work

The Islamic Republic has urged Arab states to follow its lead and provide Hamas with weapons.

Iran's president has welcomed the cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, but expressed reservations about its effectiveness, according to a Pakistani television station that interviewed him on Thursday.

"President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad said the cruelty in Gaza should unite Muslims. He said he welcomes the cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, but he seems to not be very optimistic about the cease-fire," a TV anchor for the station said.

The cease-fire between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers took hold late Wednesday after eight days of conflict, although deep mistrust on both sides cast doubt on how long the Egyptian-sponsored deal can last.

Iranian officials have refused to comment on allegations that Tehran had supplied Hamas with Fajr-5 rockets which the group has fired on Tel Aviv, Israel's commercial center.

But Iran's Speaker of Parliament, Ali Larijani, urged Arab states on Wednesday to follow the Islamic Republic's example of providing military assistance to the Palestinians.

The Iranian news agency Fars quoted Larijani as saying that Iran regards the Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip over last week as "organized terrorism", adding "we are honored that our help has material and military aspects and these Arab countries that sit and hold meetings should know that the nation of Palestine does not need words or meetings."

"Our message is that if Arab countries want to help the nation of Palestine they should give military assistance," Larijani was quoted as saying.