January 18, 2023 Special Dispatch No. 10427

Palestinian Islamic Jihad Representative In Iran: 'Ayatollah Khamenei Is The Leader Of Us All'; Saudi Intellectuals In Response: Palestinian Leaders Are Hostile To The Arabs

January 18, 2023
Iran, Saudi Arabia, Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 10427

According to a recent report by the Iranian news agency Mehr, Nasser Abu Sharif, the representative of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in Iran, stated in a meeting with Javad Ghenaat, the governor of Iran's South Khorasan Province, that "we, the Palestinian people, believe that [Iran's Supreme Leader] Ayatollah [Ali] Khamenei is the leader of us all."  He also lavished praise on the late Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, who was assassinated by the U.S. three years ago, saying that "the virtues of the martyr Hajj Qassem Soleimani should be presented as a model for the Shi'ite and Sunni youths, so that they turn to address the real problems of the Islamic nation and know how to free the Islamic countries from the enemies' claws."[1]

Abu Sharif's remarks drew fire from Saudi journalists and intellectuals on social media, who accused the PIJ of serving the interests of Iran, not of the Palestinians. They soon extended their criticism to all the Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Fatah, slamming them for their relations with Iran and pro-Iranian forces. Supporting Iran, the critics said, is tantamount to displaying hostility to the Arabs and especially to the Gulf states. One remarked that the Palestinians tend to form alliances with the wrong parties and that their leaders use their plight to gain wealth.

It should be noted that the PIJ has received funds and weapons from Iran since its founding, and its leaders frequently express their gratitude to this country and to its leader, Khamenei, for their active support.[2] These statements often spark condemnations in the Gulf countries, which regard them as ingratitude for the Arabs' support of Palestine and even as a betrayal of the Arab nation.[3]

PIJ representative in Iran Nasser Abu Sharif (left) with South Khorasan Governor Javad Ghenaat (, January 9, 2023)

The following are some of the responses from Saudis to Abu Sharif's statements.

Saudi Researcher: The PIJ Serves Iran; We Must Distance The Palestinians From Iran For The Sake Of Peace

Saudi journalist Hussein Al-Ghawi shared Abu Sharif's remarks, tweeting: "[According to] the PIJ movement, the entire Palestinian people believes that the Imam Khomeini [sic] is its leader."[4]

Saudi intellectual 'Abd Al-Hamid Al-Hakim, the former head of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies in Jeddah, responded to Al-Ghawi's tweet, commenting: "That is a lie, because all the Palestinians are Sunnis, and the PIJ has turned Palestinian blood into a means for realizing Iranian interests. Our role is to refute these false claims. In our capacity as the Palestinians' religious and political [compass], we can distance Iran from the Palestinian cause and 'receive the keys' to this [issue], which Israel and the Biden administration regard as the most crucial [condition] for making peace [in the Middle East]."[5]  

Al-Ghawi's tweet and Al-Hakim's response

Saudi Intellectual: The Palestinian Leadership Always Forms Alliances With The Wrong Elements

Saudi Intellectual Turki Al-Hamad also responded to Al-Ghawi's tweet. He directed his criticism at the Palestinian leaderships throughout the years, writing sarcastically: "In light of the Palestinians' many diplomatic failures since 1948 and even before, I have formulated a diplomatic rule of thumb that I often rely on: If a country or a political force want to form an alliance with some element, they should check which element the Palestinian leadership has allied itself with, and avoid [forming an alliance] with that element. The history of the [Palestinian] cause, from the days of Hajj Amin Al-Husseini  [the Mufti of Jerusalem, who formed an alliance with Nazi Germany] and until today, is the best proof of this." [6]  

Turki Al-Hamad's comment

Saudi Academic: The PIJ Supports The Iranian Regime, Which Even The Iranians Themselves Are Protesting Against

Dr. Khaled Al-Harbi contended that the PIJ's position on the Iranian regime is absurd in light of the extensive protests currently raging against this regime in Iran itself. He commented:  "The Iranian people are protesting against Khomeini [sic] and the PIJ welcomes him in Palestine. I predict that every [Iranian] who used to be in favor of helping Palestine will stop supporting them after this statement."[7]

Dr. Khaled Al-Harbi's comment

Saudi political analyst Fahd Dibaji also took to Twitter to respond to Abu Sharif's statements, writing: "…[My] response to [Abu Sharif] is that we believe that most Palestinians do not have a real cause, other than hostility and hatred towards the Arabs – especially towards the Gulf states – and a constant attempt to fleece them."[8]

Fahd Dibaji's tweet

Responding to Dibaji's tweet, Saudi journalist Muhammad Al-'Atiq wrote: "[It has become] a matter of gaining wealth and becoming rich on the pretext of Palestine and the occupation. If they could, they would have sold the land, as their forefathers did, and lived like refugees expelled from their homes, as is their custom."[9] Saudi poet Fahd Al-Dosari also commented: "Hamas has neglected the Arab Palestinian cause ever since it [started] leaning towards Iran… Is it conceivable that the Palestinian people should leave the Arab fold[?]"[10]

The same day, Fahd Dibaji criticized the Palestinian factions again, this time in response to a meeting held in Baghdad on January 10 between Jibril Al-Rajoub, the secretary of Fatah's Central Committee, and Qais Al-Khaz'ali, commander of the Iran-backed Shi'ite militia 'Asaeb Ahl Al-Haq.[11] Dibaji shared a picture of the two and tweeted: "There is no benefit in either Hamas nor Fatah. None of [the Palestinian factions] are any good."

Fahad Dibaji's tweet in response to the meeting between Jibril Al-Rajoub (left) and Qais Khaz'ali

Saudi Twitter User: The PIJ's Founder Wrote A Book During The Iranian Revolution Praising Khomeini

Saudi Twitter user 'Abd Al-Ilah wrote that the PIJ representative's remarks are not surprising, given the PIJ's close relations with Iran. He tweeted: "…This terror organization [the PIJ] was established during the Khomeini's revolution [sic].[12] Its founder was Fathi Shqaqi, a former activist in the Muslim Brotherhood, who during the Iranian revolution wrote a book praising Khomeini…"[13]

'Abd Al-Ilah's tweet


[1], January 9, 2023. It should be noted that this statement was not published on the PIJ's official websites.

[4], January 11, 2023.

[5], January 11, 2023;, January 12, 2023.

[6],, January 11, 2023.

[7];, January 11, 2023.

[8], January 12, 2023.

[9];, January 12, 2023.

[10];, January 12, 2023.

[11] The meeting was held as part of Al-Rajoub's visit to Iraq, and dealt, among other issues, with providing the Palestinians with an "Arab safety net.",, January 10, 2023.

[12] The PIJ was actually founded in 1981, two years after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

[13], January 11, 2023. Shqaqi's book is titled Khomeini, The Islamic Solution and the Alternative.

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