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Iranian-Palestinian Ties Lose Grounds | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Tehran on February 12, 2012. – Reuters

Ramallah – Iran has always bragged about providing different Palestinian resistance forces with unlimited and unconditional support; it has claimed that the Palestinian Cause is a priority to build relations with other parties. These claims justify Tehran’s cold relation with the Palestinian Authority versus the good one with Hamas, before this latter discovers the real face of Iran.

During 2016, developments proved that the Iranian support of Palestinian factions was linked to political positions and not the battles with Israel.

Conditional Support

Palestinians remember how Iran forsook Former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat because he didn’t oppose Iraq during its war with Iran, although he was the first to visit Tehran after the Islamic Revolution. They also remember how Iran didn’t make efforts to help Arafat when he was besieged in Ramallah. However, Iran exploited the agreement Arafat inked with Israel in the beginning of the nineties to consider him a betrayer.

Tehran’s relations with Hamas and the Islamic Jihad Movement were good, unlike relations with Fatah; it has also succeeded in joining both movements to its “resistance axis” along with Syria and the so-called Lebanese Hezbollah. Yet, Hamas’s suspension of its ally with the Syrian regime led Tehran to stop its support.

Attempt to invest the support

Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal avowed that Iran is no more the main supporter of the movement following the discord between Hamas and head of Syrian regime Bashar Al-Assad, however, after years of break with the movement, Tehran has resumed its efforts to polarize the “Sunni” Hamas to align the Syrian regime and Hezbollah in their confrontation with Saudi Arabia. Asharq Al-Awsat reported a meeting held between Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Hamas’ ambassador to Iran Khalid al-Qaddoumi to discuss relations; according to Asharq Al-Awsat, Zarif pledged to respond to all Hamas’s financial and military needs if the Palestinian movement announces it opposition to the Kingdom. However, Hamas rejected the offer and said it will never stand against Sunni people in the region.

Tehran later made the same attempt with the Islamic Jihad Movement after the launch of the “Decisive Storm”; but the Jihad Movement also rejected the request and asserted it will never interfere in the affairs of any Arabic country, which made Tehran suspend financial funds.

Creating a Shiite Entity

On another hand, Iran has started to think differently, rather than recruiting Sunni factions in Palestine, it has recently sought to create a Shiite movement in Gaza known as Harakat al-Sabireen, which has became an official representative of Iran.

Constant deterioration in ties

By the end of January, in a leaked voice record, Moussa Abu Marzouk, 2nd leader in Hamas, denounced any Iranian support to Hamas especially in 2009. In the same record, Abu Marzouk accused Iranians of hypocrisy and lying, which broke any efforts of relations resumption following the developments.

Harakat al-Sabireen has emerged in Gaza over the past three years with a clear Iranian support. After the retrogression of its ties with Iran, and amid a significant Sunni anger, Hamas was obliged to confront the new Shiite movement while the Palestinian Authority foiled an Iranian attempt to create a similar entity in the West Bank.

With the end of 2016, Hamas’s security bodies carried out a campaign to arrest leaders from Al-Sabireen.

Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Hamas’s pursuit of those leaders which came after years of hesitation, aims at eradicating this movement. Hisham Salem, head of the Shiite Movement said that Hamas’ security bodies have chased him after his positions from the battles of Aleppo, as Hamas supports the opposition and stands against Bashar Al-Assad. The target of Sabireen in Gaza has reflected the ongoing dispute between Iran and Hamas concerning the Syrian war.

It is worth noting that the conflict concerning the war over Aleppo emerged when Heshmat Allah Falahat, an Iranian lawmaker attacked Hamas and said that its position from the Syrian war is nurtured by the Zionist Lobby and the Arab countries that fund it.

2016 marked a bad ending for the Iranian relations with both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority; President Mahmoud Abbas overlooked the official Iranian position when he met the leader of the Iranian opposition Maryam Rajavi in Paris, which provoked the Iranian officials.

Abbas also finished 2016 by aligning with Saudi Arabian in all its efforts, which is expected to maximize conflicts with Tehran.