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memri
November 10, 2017 No.
7176

Palestinian Authority Daily: We Will Not Sit Idly By In Face Of Iran's Interference In The Palestinian Arena

On November 5, 2017, the day after Lebanese prime minister Sa'd Al-Hariri announced, in Riyadh, that he was stepping down, and also the day after the Houthis in Yemen fired a ballistic missile at Riyadh's King Khaled International Airport – both of these events reflecting further escalation in Iran-Saudi tensions – Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud 'Abbas visited Saudi Arabia, meeting with King Salman and with Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman.

Before leaving the country, 'Abbas expressed "solidarity with Saudi Arabia against the attacks on it" as well as his "full support for it and for the steps it is taking to protect its security and stability."[1]

According to a report on Raialyoum.com, and in the Lebanese Al-Akhbar daily, which is close to Hizbullah, 'Abbas had been "suddenly summoned" to Saudi Arabia while he was visiting Egypt, where he met with Egyptian President 'Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi, as part of Saudi efforts to form a coalition against Iran and Hizbullah as well as against Hamas, which has recently been strengthening its ties with Iran.[2] According to the report, his summoning was in coordination with the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump.[3]

During 'Abbas's Saudi visit, the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida published two unusually harsh anti-Iran articles, criticizing this country's involvement in the region, particularly with the Palestinians. An editorial stated that Iran was trying to infiltrate the Palestinian arena by means of strengthening ties with Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and clarified that Iran was not doing this to serve the Palestinian interests but to expand its own control in the region. It stressed that the PA would not allow Iran to interfere in its territory and to duplicate what it had done with Hizbullah. Additionally, columnist Anwar Rajab called on the Palestinians to reexamine their relations with Iran and to beware of becoming a tool for it, because this would harm Saudi support for them and damage the entire Palestinian cause.

The following are excerpts from the editorial and article.


Palestinian President 'Abbas with Saudi King 'Abbas during the former's recent visit to Saudi Arabia (image: psnews.ps, November 6, 2017)

Al-Hayat Al-Jadida Editorial: We Will Not Allow Iranian Interference Aimed At Duplicating The Hizbullah Model In Palestine

Al-Hayat Al-Jadida's November 8, 2017 editorial of stated: "Sa'd Al-Hariri's resignation from the post of Lebanese prime minister is certainly not an exclusively Lebanese matter. This, not only because he announced his resignation from the Saudi capital, but also because his resignation stemmed from Iran's flagrant interference in Lebanon as part of [its] dangerous strategy in several countries and places.

"That said, we have not and will not interfere in the internal affairs of Lebanon, whom we wish nothing but the best. However, [we are] confronting the Iranian interference and its attempts to send its tentacles into our Palestinian arena by financing Hamas and Islamic Jihad [and supporting them with] statements and slogans, [not to mention] a certain faction on the left [i.e., the Popular Front], which has lately joined them without any clear Marxist or national excuse. Faced with this [Iranian] interference, we say that we will not sit idly by and will not allow intervention aimed at duplicating the model of Hizbullah in Palestine in order to expand the map of the Persian empire. The [Iranian] leaders have begun to discuss [this empire] in public, such as Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan, who said, 'We are the masters of this region.' This means that the Iranian interference is not aimed at liberating Palestine or promoting Palestinian interests; rather, its main goal is to achieve hegemony and control. Are the Iranian factions [i.e., pro-Iranian Palestinian factions] aware of this reality? Do they realize the magnitude of the dangers that the Iranian interference creates?

"Worse, creating an authority within an authority in the Palestinian arena while we are still under Israeli occupation is a recipe for destroying the national project, the project of establishing a [Palestinian] state, the project of liberty and independence. Since we are confronting the occupation and fighting to remove it, we will not tolerate disagreements on strategic decisions or [anyone] toying with our supreme national interests. Without one authority, one administration and one armed [force], we will not be able to effectively fight the occupation or fully realize our just causes.

"Any relations of the [Palestinian] factions with the surrounding region must be grounded in national unity, independent national decisions and stances that preserve [our] supreme national interests – otherwise they will be relations of ruler and ruled, to say the least. One who is ruled [by another] is unable to decide on a certain direction if that direction does not serve the interests of his master who controls and finances him.

"Al-Hariri's resignation has hung a bell around Dehghan's neck [i.e., is a mark of shame for him]. His insolent statements cause us to realize who is threatening the future of the nation and its countries and who is striving to turn them into parts of the Persian empire."[4]

The Palestinians Must Stay Away From Partnership In Regional Axes Or Power Struggles

Al-Hayat Al-Jadida columnist Anwar Rajab wrote on November 7, 2017 that Sa'd Al-Hariri's quitting the premiership of Lebanon was connected to "the danger that Iran and its proxies pose for the stability and security of the entire region, if we take into account the complications and the fears aroused by [Iran's] extensive system of ties, by means of pockets [of influence] scattered across many areas, and its efforts to duplicate these pockets and spread them everywhere it can... We, as Palestinians, must stand fast in light of [this reality], and must reexamine our considerations in all things concerning the relationship with Iran and its limits, and where it is likely to lead us...

"Iran's leaders and military personnel are no longer hiding the fact that they are sending proxies to carry out their policy and actualize their ambitions in the region... The Palestinians are quite familiar with Iran's interference in their affairs, with Hamas's, PIJ's, and, recently, also the PFLP's connections with Iran, and with Iran's political, military, and monetary aid [to these organizations], on the pretext of supporting the Palestinian resistance... The Iranians have their own goals, interests, and agendas, but we cannot accept their having Palestinian tools, for any reason whatsoever...

"In order to prevent the Lebanese model from being duplicated, and from hearing a Palestinian discourse that sounds Lebanese, we must examine many issues, and raise them clearly and courageously at the Palestinian factions' meeting in Cairo [set for November 21]: First, the Palestinians must stay away from partnership in regional axes or power struggles, because we are not party to them and there is no interest in them for us. In light of the growing Saudi-Iranian tension, and its implications on the regional and international levels, Hamas and PIJ must reexamine [their] relationships with Iran... As Palestinians, we must not disregard [the fact that] Saudi Arabia supports all Palestinians, not just some of them. [Moreover, Saudi Arabia] has not interfered in the affairs of the Palestinians except in positive ways. There is not necessarily any need to show enmity towards Iran, but it is unreasonable to arouse the ire of [our] big sister, Saudi Arabia. With regard to the [abovementioned] pretext for Iran's support for the armed resistance, we will take a pass on aid that is not aimed at Palestinian goals. We must be in no one's pocket. Likewise, the matter of the resistance is controversial for the Palestinians, and it is an opening to interference in our affairs by means of strengthening one element at the expense of another...

"Second, external interference in Palestinian affairs is sometimes done in the name of supporting the resistance, and other times in the name of humanitarian aid to Gaza, and yet other times by means of conferences for elements working against the policies of the PA. In order to stop those with private and party agendas, all external financial or humanitarian aid must pass through the PA, or through international organizations in coordination with the PA. But aid provided to parties and organizations is suspect, and is being used to undermine Palestinian stability and social quiet...

"The motto of 'one authority, one law, one weapon' should be transformed into a national Palestinian strategy, and we must stand firmly against [the phenomenon of] organizations turning into centers of power and institutions that parallel [legitimate Palestinian institutions and] and that are capable of torpedoing any areas of life when the latter are contrary to their own interests."[5]

 

[1] Palsawa.com, November 5, 2017.

[3] Raialyoum.com, November 6, 2017; Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), November 7, 2017.

[4] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), November 8, 2017.

[5] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), November 7, 2017.