Abbas Prods Brazil to Help End Iran Support for Hamas

Luis Inacio Lula da Silva calls for Israeli settlement freeze, says UN should coordinate peace talks.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas wants Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to convince Iran to put an end to its support for the radical Palestinian movement Hamas.

"Iran supports Hamas with money. Hamas' decisions are in the hands of Tehran," Abbas said Friday in an interview with the Brazilian daily Folha de Sao Paulo.

Abbas' remarks were clearly aimed at Lula's next Middle East visitor on Monday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"I hope [Lula] can tell [Ahmadinejad] a few things about everything that is happening in the Middle East. I think the president will," Abbas was quoted as saying.

For Abbas, problems among Palestinians are "a pretext that helps reinforce Israel's argument that they do not know who their partners are" on the Palestinian side when it comes to talks.

"I do not think that the Israelis have caused [division among Palestinians], but they encourage it and keep it up for their own benefit," he explained.

Abbas said he would like Brazil - which also hosted Israeli President Shimon Peres last week - to get involved in talks for peace in the Middle East.

"We believe that Brazil should play a role in the peace process, and we will ask it to take the opportunity to take on the role. I know [Brazil] is respected by the Israelis and the Arabs, and by the Palestinians in particular," Abbas said.

"Brazil, as an important country, and President Lula, as a respected leader, can play an important role. There are many ways of taking action for peace," he added.

Silva on Friday joined his Palestinian counterpart in calling on Israel to stop building new settlements in areas claimed by Palestinians.

Silva said the expansion of Israeli settlements should be frozen and Palestinian borders of the future guaranteed.

Silva spoke after a meeting with Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas, who also plans to visit Argentina and Chile.

Silva also recently told two local radio stations that the United Nations should coordinate Middle East negotiations - not the U.S., which he said is one of those responsible for the crisis.

President Shimon Peres made an official visit to Brazil earlier this week, where he called Richard Goldstone, who authored the United Nations report accusing Israel of perpetrating war crimes in its Gaza offensive earlier the year, a man devoid of any real sense of justice who is intent on harming Israel.

"Goldstone is a small man, devoid of any sense of justice, a technocrat with no real understanding of jurisprudence," Peres told his Brazilian counterpart, adding that the South African jurist "was on a one-sided mission to hurt Israel."

Peres also urged Syrian President Assad to engage in direct peace talks with Israel without delay.

"I am calling on President Assad to join us in direct and immediate negotiations, without mediators, without conditions, without postponements," Peres said in an address to Brazil's parliament.

Regarding the Palestinian track, Peres told legislators that Israel recognizes the Palestinians' right to an independent state and is prepared to make painful concessions to make that happen.