Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has conveyed condolences to the people of Venezuela after the death of President Hugo Chavez. He was, said Abbas, "a friend of the Palestinians", adding that he was "saddened deeply" by news of the South American leader's death.
"With the death of Hugo Chavez," said President Abbas, "the Palestinian people and the national movement have lost a strong supporter of our people's just struggle for freedom and independence."
Abbas said that the Palestinians will "remain loyal" to the legacy of Chavez, who died of cancer on Tuesday. "His memory will remain etched in our conscience, in recognition of his courageous stance in support of our right to establish an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital." Abbas noted Venezuela's support for the application for Palestine's non-member observer status at the United Nations last year.
The Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, also expressed its condolences and praised the late president's positions on the Palestinian cause. "Hugo Chavez was a fighter and supporter for the Palestinian cause," said a Hamas statement. "He defended the Palestinian people and their freedom, and opposed Israeli aggression against our people in the Gaza Strip." The movement expressed its hope that Venezuela will remain an advocate of the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli occupation and arrogance.
Speaking on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ahmed Saadat said that Chavez was "a friend of the Palestinian and Arab people"; his loss, added the group's Secretary General, marks a day of mourning for the Palestinian people who will never forget his heroic support.
As president of oil-rich Venezuela, Chavez spearheaded international opposition to Israel's occupation over the past few years. He cut diplomatic ties with Israel against the backdrop of the 2008/9 invasion and bombardment of Gaza.