Zuheir Kseibati
Dar Al-Hayat (Opinion)
October 3, 2011 - 12:00am

President Mahmoud Abbas, ever since he put forward the request for membership of the state of Palestine at the United Nations, is facing not only the American veto prepared in advance, as a first look at the developments of “the day after” indicates a trilateral punishment:

1. An Israeli settlement expansion plan, to prevent any possibility of Abbas and the Palestinian Authority agreeing to the statement of the Quartet on the Middle East, which called for reviving the negotiation process while ignoring the problematic issue of settlement-building. As for Israel accepting yesterday to resume negotiations “without preconditions”, its aim is to complete the siege of the PA, called upon to “swallow” a time bomb by yielding to all American-Israeli demands, in exchange for nothing.

2. The US Congress rushing to freeze over two hundred million dollars of aid to the Palestinians until the issue of the request for full membership at the UN of the Palestinian state is resolved.

3. Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ali Khamenei condemning the request and denouncing the policies of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which “has failed to confront the occupation because it has distanced itself from the people and from the teachings of Islam”.

Thus the veto with which Washington threatens to thwart Abbas’s request is no longer just American. And if it had been evident to expect what took place in the context of President Barack Obama’s Administration using all diplomatic and economic weapons to punish the Palestinian President’s defiance of the United States’ desire for him to refrain from requesting membership for the state of Palestine, it was equally predictable for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to blackmail the Americans and swiftly punish the Palestinians.

What had not been so evident was that Supreme Leader Khamenei would leap from the shock of the damage suffered by his constant wager on his alliance with the Syrian regime to the platform of saving his network of links to Islamist movements and groups in the region, some of them Palestinian, after it appeared that the events in Syria had undermined this network – an example of this being Iran’s relationship with Hamas.

After a difficult spring for the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, Khamenei has taken the initiative, from the podium of the Conference in Support of the Palestinian Intifada hosted by Tehran, of firing directly against the PLO, and against the request for membership of the state, after a period during which Iran had disappeared from the dynamic of the conflict between Gaza and Ramallah… Thus the campaigns accusing Abbas of treason quickly returned to the hallways of the conference, and to the Islamic Republic’s media.

The Supreme Leader admitted that what was required was not to “throw the Jews into the sea”, yet he defined the ultimate purpose of the Palestinians as the liberation of all the land “from the Mediterranean Sea to the Dead Sea”. Netanyahu responds angrily, but he shares with the Supreme Leader the campaign to punish Abbas. If not, then what does Khamenei mean when he returns to the method of shedding doubt on the legitimacy of the Palestinian President and of his government, because “the people will, as they did in Gaza, be able to impose their own government”.

And when the Supreme Leader went a few steps beyond Ahmadinejad, he did not call for eradicating or wiping out Israel, but instead renewed the theory of the referendum on a complete and unified Palestine… He challenged the legitimacy of the request for membership of the state, as Netanyahu did, and seemed like Obama in beating around the bush on the priority of negotiations with the Hebrew state.

As for the suggestion made by he who takes refuge in the Velayat-e-Faqih (Guardianship of the Jurist) – a fortress above all law and all order – to hold a “referendum for the Palestinian people to decide their own fate, and their system of government, like any other people”, if it does not resume the incitement against the Palestinian Authority, in front of Khaled Mashal and Ramadan Shallah, it at the very least returns to shedding doubt on the usefulness of reconciliation with the PA, so that it may not complete its course.

It is then a return by Iran to shedding doubt on the legitimacy of Abbas, the PA and their methods, and a dwarfing of the Palestinian President’s efforts in New York – such that the American (and of course Israeli) veto seems to be an Iranian one as well! No changes to such a reality, neither Netanyahu complaining of Tehran supplying the Hamas movement with Grad rockets, nor his ignoring the coincidence of Western and Iranian suggestions about the Arab Spring giving rise to “Islamist” governments… governments which Tehran as Europe is flirting with, while Britain calls on Israel to prepare to coexist with them.

But is Hamas not a resigned Islamist government – and one likely to assume government once again if the reconciliation were to collapse?

What Khamenei announced from the podium of the Conference in Support of the Palestinian Intifada is feared to pave the way for an uprising against the PA, one which Tehran would consider legitimate, since it accuses Abbas of treason for “squandering the land”… And Iran’s primary motive, after containing the “Syrian shock”, is not to squander all of its assets in the Middle East.


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