Analysis: Iran seeks influence in the Palestinian Authority PDF Print E-mail

Rachel Avraham

According to a recent report in MEMRI, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei initiated the 6th

Annual Conference in Support of the Palestinian Intifada. The conference is said to include representatives from 80 countries as well as Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. In the conference, Khamenei referred to Israel as a “cancerous tumor” whose remedy is a coordinated Palestinian intifada against Israel. The question remains, why does Iran seek to host this conference and to make these statements now?

 

One of the strategic objectives of the Islamic Republic of Iran is to wipe Israel off the map. In official Iranian propaganda,

Israel is referred to as the little Satan while America is the big Satan. The former Israeli Embassy in Tehran has been transformed into a Palestinian Embassy. Yet, it should be noted that Iranian aggression in the region has been mainly focused upon the Sunni world and not the Jewish state in recent times.

 

Iranian actions in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen demonstrate that the Islamic Republic seeks to establish a Shia crescent from their country to the Mediterranean Sea. However, Syrian dissident Sherkoh Abbas stresses that in recent months, Iran is trying to expand their sphere of influence to the Red Sea by increasing support for Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and even the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, whom Khamenei has praised even though it is a secular Marxist Palestinian terror group. Although all of these groups are Sunni, they cooperate with Iran because the Islamic Republic provides them with crucial logistical support that presently cannot be replaced so they overlook the fact that Iran is Shia.

However, there are other reasons aside from expanding their sphere of influence that Iran held this conference now. A JerusalemOnline source conveyed that peace talks are set to begin in Washington, DC within a couple of months and this conference hosted by Iran is an attempt to sabotage it. According to recent reports, the Americans seek to pursue an outside-inside approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, where first and foremost Israel would make peace with the greater Arab world and in the end, a solution would be found for the Palestinian issue. If the whole Sunni world unites with Israel against Iran in the framework of establishing a regional peace agreement, this poses a strategic threat to Iranian interests in the Middle East and thus from Iran’s perspective, must be undermined from its beginnings.

The question remains, will the Palestinian Authority join the Sunni world and Israel in uniting against Iranian aggression? Although the Palestinian Authority is not directly in the Saudi Arabian Coalition, they rely heavily upon the Saudis in order to maintain power and they are predominantly Sunni. However, at the same time, Fatah also very much supports the idea of waging terror attacks and intifadas until Israel is wiped off the map like the Iranian sponsored conference promoted. Just recently, Palestinian Media Watch reported that senior level Fatah official Nabil Shaath proclaimed that Palestinians have the right to utilize “armed struggle” in order to “liberate” their “homeland.”

However, despite Fatah’s support for terrorism, the Palestinian Authority decided to side with Saudi Arabia in its struggle against Iran so they cannot become a pro-Iranian satellite entity. A JerusalemOnline source conveyed that this is likely because they believe that should they end up supporting Iran, Abu Mazen could lose power for he would no longer enjoy the backing of powerful Arab states. According to a JerusalemOnline source, the number one goal of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries is to confront Iranian aggression in the Middle East. This means that should Israel make an agreement with the Saudi Arabian coalition, it is possible that Abu Mazen can be potentially pressured into making concessions that he was not willing to make when former US President Barack Obama utilized an inside-outside approach.

 

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