GAZA CITY - Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal on Monday told Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas that his movement backs a Palestinian bid for enhanced United Nations status, a Hamas statement said.

“Khaled Meshaal... held a telephone conversation with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in which he affirmed that Hamas welcomes the step of going to the United Nations for state observer status,” said the statement.

The statement, released just three days before Abbas is due to ask the UN General Assembly in New York to upgrade Palestinian representation, came after Hamas members in Gaza last week denied offering the president their backing.

But both Meshaal and fellow political bureau member Izzat al-Rishq said Monday that they supported the decision to go before the United Nations, though they warned it should not “compromise” Palestinian “constants and rights.”

“This move must be in the context of a vision and national strategy to maintain the national constants and rights and based on elements of power in the hands of our Palestinian people, the first of which is the resistance,” Meshaal’s statement said.

In his statement, Rishq said he “welcomed” the UN bid but warned it should not “sacrifice or compromise any inch of Palestinian land from the (Mediterranean) sea to the (Jordan) river.”

On Thursday, the movement in Gaza had denied reports that Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya had offered his backing for the UN bid in a telephone call with Abbas.

“It is not true,” Hamas spokesman Taher al-Nunu said in a statement last Thursday evening, adding “the media should be more careful.”

And on Saturday, Mahmud Zahar, a Gaza-based Hamas senior official who has often taken stances at odds with those of the leadership-in-exile, said the bid was “recognition of an official waiver of the 1948 borders.”

But by Monday, and after Meshaal and Rishq’s comments, the tone from Gaza appeared to have softened.

Hamas “supports any diplomatic step which will get something more for the Palestinian people,” Gaza Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP.

“But we say it is very important to have a national vision for supporting the resistance and Palestinian rights,” he stressed.

Abbas is set to ask for state observer status for the Palestinians on Thursday, a little over a year after a failed bid to secure full state membership.