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Former PA minister: Fatah should ally with Iran

Aug. 2, 2009 10:41 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 3, 2009 9:20 A.M.)
Jerusalem – Ma'an – The time has come for Fatah, Palestine's largest political party, to seek a strategic alliance with Iran, the movement's Jerusalem affairs liaison Hatim Abdul Qader told Ma'an on Saturday.

In a statement, Abdul Qader said that in light of Israel's disinterest in achieving a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians, the Fatah movement was left with no choice but to seek help abroad from Iran.

He insisted that he was referring just to the party, and not to the Palestinian Authority government in Ramallah. Abdul Qader resigned from his post as PA minister of Jerusalem affairs in July.

The more secular Fatah has in the past avoided relations with Iran ever since its Islamic Revolution in 1979, although the Palestinian movement was generally supportive of Iran's efforts to throw off Western rule. Fatah's rival, Hamas, is known to have warm relations with Iran.

"The challenges that face the Palestinian people, in terms of unprecedented attacks and dangers in Jerusalem, oblige the Fatah movement to formulate its regional strategic alliances based on new principles and criteria," Abdul Qader said.

He encouraged the upcoming Fatah conference to adopt a political program that formulates new relations with Iran due to its strategic importance and influence. Abdul Qader argued that the Islamic republic's power in the region ought to be exploited to serve the Palestinian cause and the cause of Jerusalem.

Abdul Qader also claimed that former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami was one of the few leaders in the region who supported former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's rejection of Israeli proposals at Camp David in 2000, unlike many Arab regimes.

The Fatah leader also said that despite Iran's excellent relations with Hamas, it still views Fatah as the leader of the Palestinian national struggle, and would be willing to help. He also suggested linking the Palestinian and Syrian tracks in any future negotiations with Israel.

Last month, the Palestine Liberation Organization's top negotiator, Saeb Erekat, met with Iran's foreign minister for the first time in Egypt. Erekat told Ma'an he spoke with Manouchehr Mottaki about reconciliation talks, national unity, and other regional and Palestinian issues.
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