In recent weeks, Iran has been noticeably ratcheting up its efforts to arouse the Palestinian resistance organizations against Israel, particularly in public declarations and with promises of support and aid.
Iran's moves apparently come against the backdrop of Tehran's preparations for the expansion of sanctions against it.
Tehran's focus on mobilizing the Palestinian resistance organizations and its recurrent declarations of the imminent outbreak of a third intifada stem from its assessment that politically, it is more prudent to act in the Palestinian arena than in the Lebanese arena – where Tehran, Damascus, and Hizbullah would pay a high price for it. In contrast, stirring up the Palestinian arena, which at present is at an impasse, yields immediate results for Tehran in establishing its position in the Islamic world – at the expense of Egypt and Saudi Arabia and without any cost whatsoever to it globally. Such moves also appear to constitute defiance of the U.S., particularly in light of the U.S. administration's efforts to restart Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.
Immediately after the February 25, 2010 Damascus summit, attended by Syrian President Al-Assad and Iranian President Ahmadinejad, Tehran pointedly hosted the leaders of the Palestinian factions, at a two-day conference on National and Islamic Solidarity for the Future of Palestine. At the conference, Ahmadinejad made particularly virulent anti-Israel statements.
It must be stressed, however, that Hamas, an Arab Sunni movement, is in no hurry to place itself under the authority of Shi'ite Iran, and that there are differences of opinion as well as rivalry between Hamas officials in Gaza and Hamas leaders in Damascus.
Khamenei at Tehran Palestinian Resistance Conference: The Resistance Will Be Successful in "Destroying Israel"
The Tehran conference was attended by Palestinian faction leaders – including Damascus-based Hamas political bureau head Khaled Mash'al, Islamic Jihad leader Ramadhan Shallah, and PFLP-GC leader Ahmad Jibril. (See also MEMRI TV Clip No. 2407, "Iranian Leader Khamenei Meets with Heads of Palestinian Factions," March 1, 2010).
At a meeting with the leaders, on the eve of the conference, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei went all out in his praise for the Palestinian resistance, calling it "an incredible phenomenon" that was driving Israel to "defeat and destruction." He added that the resistance had united the various Palestinian movements and had led to belief in God, that that the resistance would succeed in liberating Palestine, and that its increased strength in confronting "the front of arrogance and disbelief" was undeniable. Khamenei, emphasizing the importance of establishing a “new Islamic Middle East,” declared that the U.S. would suffer defeat at the hands of the Palestinian nation. He also took the opportunity to criticize Egypt's call to Iran to cease its interference in the Palestinian arena, saying that when the Arabs were asked to help the Palestinians, they abandoned them because of the enemy and its allies. Khamenei stressed that the conduct of the Arabs would be condemned in the annals of history.
Ahmadinejad: The Hidden Imam Is Aiding the Palestinians; "The Hand of God... Will Purge the Region" of the Zionist Existence by Means of the Palestinians
At the conference, Ahmadinejad gave a particularly virulent anti-Israel speech, declaring that Tehran would help the Palestinian resistance movements, and stressing that Israel would be destroyed by the resistance. In this speech, Ahmadinejad highlighted the role of the Hidden Imam, the Shi'ite messiah, as helper of the Palestinians.
He said: "You [the Palestinians] must be in a state of maximal readiness: the moment the Zionist regime makes a mistake, you must end its shameful life once and for all, and the Iranian nation will stand alongside you and will support you with all its might... The era of Israel and of its supporters has reached its end... and the signs of final victory are evident.”
Addressing the Israelis themselves, he said: “Respect the rights of the Palestinian people, and go back to wherever you came from – and if you do not do so, know that the hand of God will emerge from the sleeves of the faith of the Palestinian nation and of the nations of the region, and will purge the region of your existence."
Ahmadinejad told the conference participants: "Rest assured that the honorable Mahdi is standing alongside you and supporting you in carrying out your divine duty... The Hidden Imam lives, and He is aware of what is happening around us... His existence serves as a sanctuary and sows despair among the [sons of] Satan and of the arrogance [i.e., the West, especially the U.S.]..."
He continued: "[Israel,] the virus of corruption, has lost its raison d’être, thanks to God and to the brave resistance of the sons of Palestine; 60 years of the West’s unconditional support for [Israel] and the failure of the plans for reconciliation demonstrate that the resistance alone will realize the Palestinian rights."
Rejecting Israel's right to exist even within only part of its current borders, Ahmadinejad said: "The existence of the criminal Zionist regime is an insult to all humanity... The Zionists are a racist group; [they] are not committed to a single human principle, and their presence on even a single centimeter of the land of Palestine and the region leads to threat, to consecutive wars, and crimes...
"Today, it is clear that the Zionist party and Zionism aspire to take over the entire world, and that the international [political] and financial centers are under their influence... Praise be to God and the Palestinian resistance, today it is evident to all that the Zionists have no religion – on the contrary, they oppose the prophets and religion, and it is known to all that the establishment of the Zionist regime was planned and carried out by the 'global arrogance' and by the tyrannical rule that prevails on the basis of corruption and lies, and with the aim of establishing a base in the heart of our sensitive and crucial region...
"Today, it is known to all that the mission of the Zionist regime is occupation, aggression, threat, and preparing the ground for the rule of the oppressors in the world... The slogans of human rights and the struggle against terrorism, uttered by the supporters of the Zionist regime, are a pretext for their presence in the region and for the expansion of their control over it...
"Today, it is clear that the Zionists are the source of all wars, of the destruction of cultures and human values, and of terrorism... Today, it is clear that the only means to combat them is through courageous and fiery resistance, by the faithful sons of Palestine and by the nations of the region...
"The 60 years of crime [perpetrated] by the Zionists, the unconditional support of them by Western politicians, and the failure of the reconciliation plan [with them] are evidence of the mission of this regime and of the justice of the resistance. This proves, therefore, that this is the only path to end the occupation and to realize the rights of the Palestinian nation...
"[Even] the European nations are interested in an end being put to the disgraceful life of Zionist thought. Were the European and U.S. governments to hold an internationally monitored referendum on this issue, it would become clear that the[ir own] peoples do not want [Israel.]
"Praise be to God, the Zionist regime is at the end of its road, on a downward slope and at a complete dead end, and time is working against it... They [the Zionists] are ready to set the entire world on fire to save themselves...
"The signs of final victory can be seen, and the only path is the continuation of the resistance, love of God, and certainty of victory... The destiny of the Zionist regime is for it to be completely eliminated."
Palestinian Faction Leaders at the Tehran Conference
In an interview with the Iranian news agency Qodsna, Hamas political bureau head Khaled Mash'al said that the resistance owed its very existence to Iranian Leader Ali Khamenei, and stressed the importance of the meeting with him for the future of the resistance: "If the resistance in the region breathes today, it is by virtue of Khamenei, who has always defended it unconditionally... This meeting [with Khamenei] was highly important to the future of the moral values of Palestine and the resistance, particularly under the current conditions in the region."
Mash'al said at the conference that Israel is destined to pass from the world, and warned against “[Israel’s] decision to destroy Al-Aqsa Mosque and the rest of the holy sites in Palestine.”
The other Palestinian faction leaders also thanked Iran for supporting the Palestinians, and stressed that they would continue with the resistance, as the only path to victory over Israel. PFLP-GC leader Ahmad Jibril said that resistance was a step along the path of the Prophet Muhammad, and that the resistance had established a new Middle East, starting with Tehran and stretching throughout the entire region.
Also attending the conference was Haitham Sataihi, from the Syrian Ba'th Party leadership; during a meeting with him, Khamenei said that the resistance was the shortest path to attaining the rights of the resistance.
Iranian Media: A Third Intifada Is On the Way
The Iranian media have stated repeatedly in recent weeks that a third intifada against Israel is on the verge of breaking out. A March 1, 2010 article in the Iranian daily Javan, which is affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), stated, "The only route before the Palestinians in response to Israel's desecration of the Islamic holy sites is to ignite a new intifada."
On March 2, the Iranian daily Kayhan, affiliated with Iranian Leader Khamenei, assessed that in light of developments within Israel and outside it, a third intifada was taking shape there, and that the liberation of Palestine would be attained by the resistance and by popular struggle.
A March 17 article in the Jomhouri-ye Eslami daily, titled "Intifada – The Successful Model for Fighting the Occupation," praised the recent Palestinian protests, and added that if a new intifada were to break out, "no force will be able to prevent it from accomplishing its goals."
The Qods daily stated, also on March 17, that a third intifada was almost a certainty, because of the "provocative and insane" moves of the “Tel Aviv regime" and its imperialist and racist policy.
A March 15 article in the IRGC weekly Sobh-e Sadeq, titled "A New Intifada Sets Out," stated that "the only path to attain the rights of the Palestinian people and the struggle against the expansionist aspirations of the Zionists is the continuation of the resistance and the start of a new intifada throughout Palestine – even though the reconciliation [front, i.e., of the Arab countries belonging to the Egyptian and Saudi camp,] has taken and will continue to take extensive steps to fight this operation."
In addition, the Iranian news agency Qodsna stated, on March 3, that the previous day's attempted attack on Route 443 by Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades-'Imad Mughniya Groups was "the first spark of the third intifada."
*A. Savyon is Director of the Iranian Media Project; Y. Mansharof is a Research Fellow at MEMRI.
 Tehran is not calling publicly upon Hizbullah to attack Israel, but to prepare for an Israeli attack. For statements by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to prepare to eliminate Israel, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No, 2826, "Iranian President Ahmadinejad Repeatedly Calls for Eliminating Israel," February 25, 2010, Iranian President Ahmadinejad Repeatedly Calls for Eliminating Israel.
 For statements by these two at the conference, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 2829, "At Damascus Summit, Ahmadinejad and Assad Attack U.S. and Israel; Ahmadinejad: Israel's Elimination is Near; Assad: The Resistance Is Winning," February 29, 2010, At Damascus Summit, Ahmadinejad and Assad Attack U.S. and Israel; Ahmadinejad: Israel's Elimination is Near; Assad: The Resistance Is Winning.
 The conference was held on February 27-28, 2010.
 Fars (Iran), February 27, 2010.
 Jam-e Jaam (Iran), February 28, 2010.
 In a speech delivered a few days later at Bandar Abbas in southern Iran, Ahmadinejad said that after having planted Israel in the region by means of lies, the West was now doubting the value of its continued existence. He added that Israel, the most hated regime in the world, would be eliminated by the Palestinians and by the nations of the region, and even if Israel generated a war, it would not succeed in preventing its elimination. Press TV (Iran), March 11, 2010.
 Fars, Iran, February 28, 2010
 Qodsna (Iran), February 28, 2010.
 Palestine-info.info, February 28, 2010.
 Mehr, Press TV (Iran), February 27, 2010; Al-Thawra (Syria), February 28, 2010.
 Javan (Iran), March 1, 2010.
 Kayhan (Iran), March 2, 2010.
 Jomhouri-ye Eslami, (Iran), March 17, 2010.
 Qods (Iran), March 17, 2010.
 Sobh-e Sadeq (Iran), March 15, 2010.
 Qodsna (Iran), March 3, 2010.