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February 22, 2016

Palestinian Officials Seeking Greater Ties with Iran

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PA President Mahmoud Abbas


The Palestinian Authority (PA) is hoping to upgrade its ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

According to Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), a non-profit organization that translates Arab media in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), the Gaza Strip and eastern Jerusalem, the PA is making a concerted effort to court Tehran.

PMW notes that PA President Mahmoud Abbas sent a letter to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani offering congratulations on the 37th anniversary of the Iranian Islamic Revolution, Feb. 11, 2016. Abbas Zaki, a central committee member of Fatah, the movement that dominates the PA, traveled to Iran to celebrate the anniversary. On his way to the Islamic Republic, Zaki stopped at the Iranian embassy in Amman, Jordan to celebrate.

Once in Iran, Zaki told Lebanese TV station Al-Mayadeen (which claims objectivity but reportedly reflects Syrian and Iran governmental views): “Iran is treating the Palestinian cause as an internal [Iranian] cause…Iran should be available for its primary mission, which is Palestine.”

Previous statements by Zaki seem to indicate that the “primary mission,” as the Fatah leader may conceive it, it is the destruction of the Jewish state.

On March 12, 2014 Zaki said, “Israelis have no religion and no principles. They are nothing but advanced tools for evil…Allah will gather them so that we can kill them.”

As CAMERA has noted (“‘Pragmatic’ and ‘Self-Critical’ Palestinian Official Claims the U.S. Created ISIS (Again),” Jan. 20, 2016) Zaki, once called “self-critical” by The Washington Post and “pragmatic” by The New York Times, has claimed that the United States created the terrorist group ISIS.

PMW reports that speaking to Al-Mayadeen, Zaki extolled the virtues of the theocratic, totalitarian dictatorship in Tehran:

“This anniversary has significance for us Palestinians, as it influenced life in Iran and the entire region, and created changes which still exist in the consciousness and in politics…we need to update them [Iran] about it [the Palestinian cause], especially since Iran is a key player in the Middle East.’”

Perhaps referring to role of Iranian-backed terrorist groups like Hamas (the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement) and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Zaki then claimed that Palestinian Arabs are “firefighters in the case of conflicts here or there.” Hamas and PIJ are sometime rivals of the PA and its ruling Fatah bloc.

PMW notes that a visit by Palestinian officials to Iran was talked about by PA President Abbas last August. At the time, Abbas said PA-Iranian relations “haven’t been good.” According to a PMW translation of PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Abbas said Tehran would welcome a visit by Palestinian officials and the possibility of improved relations “especially after the nuclear agreement between Iran and the countries of the world has been achieved.”

According to the U.S. State Department, Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism, including backing groups that call for Israel’s destruction like Hamas, Hezbollah, PIJ and Al-Sabireen, among others. In January 2016, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged that some of the estimated $100 billion or more in sanctions relief given to Iran as part of the agreement between the United States, China, Russia, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Iran over the latter’s presumed and if confirmed illegal nuclear weapons program is likely to go to terrorism.

Perhaps with these funds in mind, Zaki told Al-Hayat Al-Jadida in August 2015 that he would go to Iran to prepare for a future visit by Abbas. The “development of our ties with Iran is an inevitable step if we want to confront the Israeli occupation,” Zaki said.

Zaki did not specify who he expected to foot the bill for such a “confrontation.” Sometimes travel itineraries speak louder than words.

Posted by SD at February 22, 2016 04:52 PM

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