Abbas to Ahmadinejad: Talk More About Palestine, Less About Destroying Israel

PA President Mahmoud Abbas tells Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that his anti-Israel remarks harm the Palestinian cause, an Egyptian source says.

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has asked Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to make more public statements about creating a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, and fewer public attacks against Israel, an Egyptian source told Haaretz.

The source, who has knowledge of the details of the meeting between Abbas and Ahmadinejad in Cairo on Wednesday, told Haaretz that Abbas demanded the Iranian president talk more about the importance of establishing a Palestinian state and less about “wiping Israel off the map of the Middle East.”

According to the source, Abbas made it clear to his Iranian counterpart, at the meeting on the margins of the summit of Islamic states, that Israel has been taking advantage of his comments and using them against the Palestinians. Therefore, Abbas said, it is important for a state like Iran to talk more about the rights of the Palestinians, the need for an end to the occupation and the struggle for the establishment of a state within the 1967 borders in accordance with principles outlined by the international community.

Contrary to reports that relations between Abbas and Ahmadinejad were warming, Dr. Samir Ghattas, a Palestinian commentator who directs a research center in Cairo, told a Nazareth radio station on Thursday that the Palestinian president's remarks about the conflict remain unchanged: "[Abbas] doesn’t change his stance vis-a-vis one leader or another and his stance vis-a-vis the president of Iran hasn’t changed since the two met in August on the sidelines of the Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement [in Tehran]."

Then too Abbas stressed the importance of the establishment of a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders, said Ghattas, and this was later conveyed in Ahmadinejad’s speech at the United Nations, when he spoke about the rights of the Palestinians and attacked Israel for violating the Palestinians’ rights but refrained from statements about destroying Israel.”

It should be noted that the relationship between the Palestinian Authority and Iran has generally been tense, especially in recent years. Abbas and Fatah have accused Iran of supporting Hamas and Islamic Jihad and of contributing to the failure of reconciliation between the Palestinian rivals. At the meeting in Tehran, Abbas even made a crack about Ahmadinejad, who spoke about his love for the Palestinians; Abbas told him publicly that he expects him to “fall in love with all the Palestinians and not just some of them.

Palestinian media did not feature the meeting yesterday prominently. Palestinian news agency Wafa released a short statement to the effect that the two leaders met for a brief conversation, in which they discussed the UN General Assembly decision to recognize Palestine as a non-member observer state, the crisis in Syria and other issues raised at the Cairo summit.

Abbas has gotten some flak since Wednesday, following two slips of the tongue during his speech: He addressed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi as “Mr. President Mohammed Hosni” and rushed to correct himself, and he then thanked King Mohammed V of Morocco, when one of the members of the delegation reminded him that the current king is Mohammed VI, and that Mohammed V was no longer alive.

Mahmoud Abbas and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad talk during Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit in Cairo. Credit: AFP

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