On Monday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and King Abdullah of Jordan will meet in Egypt to give a push to the plans for establishing a Palestinian state.
The reports circulating in Washington indicate that during Olmert’s recent visit to the White House, President Bush expressed his strong desires to see a Palestinian state established before he leaves office in January 2009. Reports coming from the Jordanian capital of Amman also indicate that the Jordanian king on behalf of the leaders of Arab states of the Persian Gulf will offer Israel $10 billion in cash incentives when an agreement to establish the independent Palestinian state is reached.
Hamas leader and the deposed Palestinian premier Ismail Haniyeh today rejected the planned summit between Israeli and Arab leaders. Haniyeh said the only way to establish a Palestinian state is through “steadfastness and resistance” (AP, 24 June). The words used by Haniyeh are interpreted by political analyst as the belief that only through an attack on Israel could Palestinians achieve their statehood.
What is Iran’s position? Iran had some concerns about the Palestinian infighting and its positive outcome for Israel, but the split is final. It is becoming increasingly clear that now Iran is positioning itself fully behind Hamas. Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman told reporters that Palestinian groups should close their ranks and “launch a joint campaign against the Zionist enemy” (IRNA, 16 June). Ali Akbar Valayati, a senior foreign policy advisor to the Supreme Leader, said that the most important factor in Palestine is that the people support Hamas and they continue to stand by them (Jomhuri-ye Eslami, 20 June).
201 Majlis deputies issued a statement supporting Haniyeh’s position (ILNA, 20 June). Tehran’s Friday Imam was unambiguous: The West staged “a coup” and set aside the Hamas government (Ahmad Khatami’s Friday Prayer sermon, 22 June).
As Israel and the West are coordinating their actions to tighten the siege of Hamas in Gaza, the Iranians are reported to help consolidate the Hamas government with money, weapons, and military training. Ma'ariv published a report yesterday claiming that Iran is taking steps to transfer large sums of money to Hamas, and Iranian military experts are already in the Strip (Tel Aviv Ma'ariv, 22 June).
Palestinian Intelligence Director Toufiq Al Terawi actually went further and accused Iran of “playing a major role” leading to the control of Gaza by Hamas (Baghdad Al Mada, 24 June). Al Terawi said “collected evidence confirmed that Iran was the main financier and executioner of Gaza events.” He also supported the reports on Iran’s military aid to Hamas: “we are aware that hundreds of Hamas elements were being trained in Iran and other Arab countries; and that planning for the coup was a joint program coordinated by both Hamas and Iran, and Iran was abreast of all the details” (Baghdad Al Mada, 24 June).
The establishment of a militant Islamic state in the backyard of Israel will not be acceptable to Israel and to the West. Iran’s support of Hamas and its disassociation with the Arab-Israeli summit tomorrow would further isolate Iran in the region. Such isolation would ease concerns on the part of Arab states over tougher economic sanctions against Iran and any plan of attack on the country’s nuclear installations. Iran’s support of Hamas could prove to be extremely dangerous for its own sake.