Abbas thanks Ahmadinejad for Iran's support

PA president chides leaders over visits to Gaza Strip, calls on Islamic countries to end financial crisis, "Judaization" of J'lem.

February 6, 2013 18:28
3 minute read.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks

Abbas at Arab League meeting 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Dabbouss)


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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met in Cairo on Wednesday with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the sidelines of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit.

This was the second meeting between the two men in the past year.

In September, Abbas met with the Iranian president in Tehran during a summit of the 120-nation Non-Aligned Movement.

Abbas said after the Cairo meeting that he thanked Ahmadinejad for Iran’s November vote in favor of upgrading the Palestinians’ status at the UN to non-member observer state.

During the meeting, which was attended by chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat, Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh and PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki, the two leaders discussed the PA’s financial crisis and efforts to achieve reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, according to a statement published by Abbas’s office.

It was not clear, however, whether Abbas had asked for Iranian funding to help solve the financial crisis.

Iran had long been providing Abbas’s rivals in Hamas with financial and military aid.

But relations between Iran and Hamas have deteriorated since the beginning of the current crisis in Syria. Hamas’s refusal to support Syrian President Bashar Assad, Tehran’s major ally in the region, has angered the Iranians.Addressing the conference in Cairo, Abbas called on the Islamic countries to help the PA overcome its financial crisis.

He also called on these countries to invest in various projects in east Jerusalem and accused Israel of waging a “fierce and brutal” campaign against the city and the Aksa Mosque.

“Over the past four-and-a-half decades, the machine of Judaization and elimination of the city’s Arab, Islamic and Christian character has not stopped in accordance with a systematic and programmed policy aimed at isolating Jerusalem from its surroundings,” Abbas said in his speech.

The PA president said that he was doing his utmost to end the rivalry between Hamas and Fatah, saying the best way to end the dispute was by holding elections in the Palestinian territories.

Abbas also reiterated his opposition to visits to Gaza by world leaders “as if there were an independent entity in the Gaza Strip.”

The PA leadership recently condemned the Malaysian prime minister for visiting the Gaza Strip and holding talks with Hamas leaders, saying such a move “harms the oneness of Palestinian representation.”

Leaders of Islamic nations called for a negotiated end to Syria’s civil war at the summit in Cairo that began on Wednesday.

The summit of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation opened on a day when the assassination of a leading Tunisian opposition politician highlighted the fragility of Arab Spring democratic revolutions in North Africa.

With Ahmadinejad making an ice-breaking visit to Egypt after 34 years of estrangement, the two-day meeting was focusing on how to stop the bloodshed in Syria.

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on Wednesday said the resolution of the perennial Israel/Palestine issue was “the cornerstone of stability in the Middle East,” Al-Ahram reported.

Addressing the Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit in Cairo, Morsi also called for a “moderate version” of Islam in light of rising Islamic fundamentalism, the paper quoted Morsi as saying.

He also said that “Syria is still bleeding and our hearts continue to bleed with the Syrian people.”

In a keynote address, Morsi called on “the ruling regime” in Damascus to learn the lessons of history and not put its interests above those of the nation, saying that rulers who did so were inevitably finished.

He urged all OIC members to support the Syrian opposition’s efforts to unite and bring about change.

The leaders of Egypt, Turkey and Iran met on the sidelines of the summit to support the peace initiative, an Egyptian presidential spokesman said, adding that Morsi had brought together the most influential players in the conflict.

Saudi Arabia, a key supporter of the Syrian rebels and a member of an Islamic Quartet formed by Morsi last August totry to broker a solution, did not attend, diplomats said.

Saudi Crown Prince Salman told the summit the Syrian regime was “committing ugly crimes” against its people. He said the UN Security Council should act to “finalize the transition of power.”

A communique drafted by OIC foreign ministers and seen by Reuters blames Assad’s government for most of the slaughter and urges it to open talks on a political transition.

Diplomats said Iran had objected to the wording and it might be toned down to spread responsibility more evenly.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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