The Palestinians have an interest in Tehran playing an increased role in the region, Jibril Rajoub, a senior Fatah official, said on Thursday.
He announced that Fatah has not abandoned the option of “armed resistance” if the peace talks with Israel fail.
“The year 2014 is the year of decision; we either go to a state or to a confrontation,” Rajoub said. “The confrontation would be on three fronts: launching and escalating resistance; boycotting and isolating Israel; and halting all forms of normalization [with Israel] on the political, academic, trade and economic levels.”
The option of resistance remains a strategic option for the Palestinians, he said.
“The option of armed resistance is also on the table,” he added.
Rajoub, who visited Tehran earlier this week, said an interview with Iran’s Al-Alam TV station that he relayed a message from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the Iranian leadership concerning the latest developments in the Palestinian arena.
Rajoub’s visit to Tehran is seen as a sign of rapprochement between Iran and the PA leadership.
Relations between the two sides have been strained over the past decade in wake of Iran’s support for Hamas and opposition to the peace process between the PA and Israel.
Relations between Iran and Hamas have deteriorated over the past three years following the Islamist movement’s refusal to side with Tehran’s ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad, against his enemies at home.
The London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi daily reported on Thursday that the Iranians were planning to invite Abbas to visit Tehran as part of efforts to boost bilateral relations.
“We are interested in creating and building bridges of communication with the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Rajoub, a former PA security commander, said in the interview. “This would have positive repercussions on the Palestinian cause, which is going through a decisive phase.”
He said that Abbas’s message to the Iranian leaders included congratulations for Tehran’s “wisdom” in dealing with the Iranian nuclear program and international sanctions. The Palestinians, Rajoub said, consider the sanctions and embargo to be unjust.
US backtracking in the face of Iran shows that the Americans have reached the conclusion that they can no longer view the world through an Israeli perspective and interest, Rajoub said.
He said that Fatah has had a long and historic relationship with Iran since the Islamic Revolution that toppled the shah in 1979.
Iran could play a role in “managing the conflict in the region,” he said Iran, he added, is part of the Arab and Islamic front in the Middle East.
Rajoub, who currently heads the Palestinian Football Association, said that the Palestinian leadership was now facing pressure regarding the peace talks with Israel.
“We are entitled to knock on all doors and seek all channels to recruit regional action in favor of our cause,” he said. “Our goal is to create elements of pressure on the international community.”
The PA leadership was not ruling out the option of unilaterally declaring a Palestinian state, Rajoub said.
“We want to declare a state under occupation,” he said.
Referring to the Fatah- Hamas dispute, Rajoub said that the rapprochement with Iran to hurt Hamas.
“We are not establishing relations with Iran at the expense of Hamas,” he explained. “Hamas is part of the Islamic Arab social, political and national fabric in Palestine. We didn’t ask Iran to cut off its relations with Hamas.”