Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki announced Sunday that contrary to Hamas claims, Iran has not invited Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to attend this week's Non-Aligned Movement conference in Tehran.
Malki said he will travel to Tehran on Monday, but if he finds out that Haniyeh or any other Palestinian who does not belong to the PA has been invited he will report to PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
The PA on Saturday had expressed outrage over reports that Iran invited Haniyeh to represent the Palestinians at this
week’s meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran.
The alleged invitation was
seen as a serious embarrassment for Abbas, who is also
expected to attend the conference despite American and European
objections. Abbas was considering canceling his trip to Tehran in
protest of Haniyeh's invitation.
Abbas agreed to participate in the conference
only after he received assurances from the Iranians that he would be allowed to
decide on the makeup of his delegation, a PA official in Ramallah
“We were surprised this weekend when Haniyeh’s office issued a
statement saying he too had been invited to the Tehran conference,” the official
told The Jerusalem Post
. “If anything, this shows that the Iranians deal
with us as if we have two separate states.This is a dangerous precedent
and could encourage others to follow suit.”
The official said he did not
rule out the possibility that Abbas would cancel his participation in the
conference if the Iranians insisted on including Haniyeh.
Also reacting to the reports over the weekend, PA Prime
Minister Salam Fayyad denounced the invitation to Haniyeh, dubbing it a blow to Palestinian
unity. Fayyad said the overture constituted a “dangerous development in
the position of Iran, which is against the territorial unity of the
He said it was also a blow to the PLO’s status as the sole
legitimate representative of Palestinians and the PA’s role in overseeing the
interests of the Gaza Strip, which is under Hamas control.
official news agency, Wafa, quoted Fayyad as saying that Iran was acting as if
Hamas, and not the PA, were the address for Palestinians in the Gaza
Fayyad said Haniyeh’s acceptance of the invitation would be a
“stab in the side of the Palestinian national project.
“This will only
cause grave damage to our people’s effort to achieve freedom and independence
and establish a Palestinian state on all the territories that were occupied in
1967,” he added, appealing to Haniyeh to place Palestinian interests above all
considerations and reject the invitation.
Ahmed Majdalani, a member of
the PLO Executive Committee, also accused Tehran of seeking to destroy
Palestinian unity by recognizing Haniyeh as the legitimate Palestinian prime
Majdalani said the Iranian move coincided with Foreign Minister
Avigdor Liberman’s recent campaign against Abbas. He was referring to Liberman’s
call to replace Abbas, whom he accused of waging diplomatic terrorism against
Israel in the international arena.
Hamas said in response that Haniyeh
would attend the conference despite the PA’s protests and threats to boycott the
Mohammed Awad, deputy prime minister of the Palestinian
government in the Gaza Strip, said Hamas was prepared to discuss the formation
of a joint PA-Hamas delegation to the conference. He said the PA should welcome
the invitation to Haniyeh because it showed that the Iranians wanted all
Palestinians to attend the conference.