Is the PA upgrading ties with Iran?
Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki visited Iran
to celebrate the anniversary of the Islamic revolution
Zaki: “Iran should be available for its primary mission, which is Palestine...
it is in Palestinian interest that Iran be a strong state”
Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
Caption: Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki
at Iranian anniversary celebrations in Iranian embassy in Amman
[Facebook Page of Abbas Zaki, Feb. 10, 2016]
The Palestinian Authority has made gestures in the last week indicating PA desire to improve and upgrade relations with Iran.
- PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas sent a letter of congratulations to Iranian President Rouhani, on the 37th anniversary of the 1979 Iranian Islamic revolution. [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Feb. 14, 2016]
- Abbas Zaki, Fatah Central Committee member, travelled to Iran to participate in the celebrations. While there, Zaki told Lebanese TV: “Iran is treating the Palestinian cause as an internal [Iranian] cause... Iran should be available for its primary mission, which is Palestine... it is in Palestinian interest that Iran be a strong state.” [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Feb. 13, 2016]
- On the way to Iran, Zaki also participated in the Iranian revolution anniversary celebrations at the Iranian embassy in Amman. [Facebook page of Abbas Zaki, Feb. 10, 2016, picture above]
The following are longer excerpts of the reports on the PA’s Iran relations:
Headline: “The president [Abbas] congratulates his Iranian counterpart on the occasion of the national holiday”
“[PA] President Mahmoud Abbas congratulated the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, on the occasion of the national holiday (i.e., the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution, Feb. 11) in his country.
The president said in a telegram: ‘It is our pleasure to convey to you, and through you to the government of Iran and the Iranian people, in the name of the State of Palestine, the Palestinian people and myself, our most sincere congratulations on the occasion of your national holiday. We wish you, your people, and your country permanent stability and prosperity.’”
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Feb. 14, 2016]
Headline: “Abbas Zaki: The Palestinian is the fire fighter of the region’s wars”
“Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki stated yesterday in an interview with Al-Mayadeen (Lebanese TV station): ‘...We are in Tehran today [Feb. 12, 2016] in order to congratulate them [the Iranians] on the [1979 Islamic] revolution. 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. Iran is treating the Palestinian cause as an internal [Iranian] cause, and this cause lives in the souls of the Iranians and is important to them. Therefore, we need to update them about it, especially since Iran is a key player in the Middle East.’ Zaki expressed hope that it will not be Arabs who create obstacles between the Iranians and the Palestinian cause, and said: ‘We are the firefighters in the case of conflicts here or there. We are the cradle of the prophets, and it is wrong to distinguish between Sunni, Shiite, Christian, or Muslim, and only those who hold grudges turn to these damaged goods (i.e., discrimination).
We as Palestinians must prevent bloodshed, and Iran should be available for its primary mission, which is Palestine’... Likewise, he said that it is in Palestinian interest that Iran be a strong state, and we demand of our partners to maintain good neighborly relations with it.”
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Feb. 13, 2016]
Facebook page of Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki on Feb. 10, 2016
“[Fatah Central Committee member and Fatah Commissioner for Arab and China Relations] brother Abbas Zaki participates in celebrations for the 37th anniversary of the Iranian revolution at the Iranian embassy in Amman.”
Last year, Mahmoud Abbas said the “relationship hasn’t been good,” but that the PA wanted to improve relations:
“Regarding the visit to Iran, President [Mahmoud] Abbas said: ‘There will be a visit to Tehran, but no date has been set, and an official date for this visit hasn’t been coordinated with the Iranian side.’
He added that ‘Iran is a neighboring state and a sister. Our relationship hasn’t been good, but we have an embassy in Tehran, which means they recognize us.’ He noted that one of the members of the [PLO] Executive Committee proposed a visit [of Abbas] to Iran, and that Tehran welcomed this visit, mentioning the bilateral relations and its interest in normalized relations between the two states, especially after the nuclear agreement between Iran and the countries of the world has been achieved.”
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 24, 2015]
Earlier that month, Abbas Zaki announced he was traveling to Iran to arrange a visit for PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas:
“Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki stated to a local radio station that he will ‘head a delegation to Iran,’ as part of the efforts to strengthen ties with it [Iran], and in order to organize President Abbas’ visit. He said that ‘the development of our ties with Iran is an inevitable step if we want to confront the Israeli occupation.’"
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 16, 2015]