June 3, 2024 | Flash Brief

Palestinian President Denounces Iran’s Supreme Leader for Supporting Gaza War

June 3, 2024 | Flash Brief

Palestinian President Denounces Iran’s Supreme Leader for Supporting Gaza War

Latest Developments

Tehran’s support for Hamas is undermining the Palestinian goal of independence, Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), said on June 3, in a rebuke of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Abbas’s statement came after Khamenei delivered a speech endorsing the October 7 massacre in southern Israel and rejecting efforts to reach a ceasefire. “Our region was very much in need of this attack,” Khamenei said, referring to October 7. According to the official Palestinian news agency WAFA, Abbas replied that the Palestinian people are paying the price for the war. “What we want is to end the occupation and embody our independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, and not policies that do not serve the Palestinian national goals,” Abbas said.

Expert Analysis

“Abbas is trying to have it both ways. On the one hand, he is benefiting from Iran’s war on Israel because the West is responding with offers of a Palestinian state; on the other hand, Iran and its terror proxies are bringing unending suffering to the Palestinian people. Notably, he won’t actually condemn the atrocities of October 7 or recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“For over three years, Iran has been supporting a network of proxies and clients in the West Bank, deliberately sowing discord and instability. The fact that the Palestinian Authority has only recently begun to speak out publicly against Iran’s meddling in Palestinian affairs is a stark reminder of their failure to prioritize Palestinian interests. Given the extent of Iran’s interference, the Palestinian Authority must take a more robust stance against Tehran’s meddling rather than simply offering token criticisms.” — Joe Truzman, Senior Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

The PA’s Response to October 7

On October 7, the PA refrained from condemning the Hamas attack. As Hamas besieged and massacred Israelis, Abbas stressed at a PA emergency meeting that Palestinians had the “right to defend themselves.” On October 9, Abbas’s ruling party, Fatah, released a statement praising the Hamas attacks, calling on all Palestinians to “escalate all the conflict zones.” Only on October 12, following U.S. pressure, did Abbas offer a vague statement condemning the killing of civilians “on both sides.” In the months since, Fatah officials have admitted that members of the group’s armed wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, participated in the October 7 attack along with Hamas.

PA Blames Hamas and Iran

The PA’s criticism of Iran and Hamas suggests that it now seeks to deflect responsibility. Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said in February that world leaders are too preoccupied with October 7. “One should not continue focusing on October 7,” he said. He added, “Palestinian suffering did not start on October 7. Palestinians have been suffering for the last 75 years.” In May, Abbas blamed Hamas for Israel’s invasion of Gaza. “The military action that Hamas carried out, at its own decision, on that day, October 7, gave Israel even more excuses and reasons to attack in the Gaza Strip, an attack it has continued with full force, with murder, destruction and uprooting,” Abbas said.

Palestinian Authority: Israel Is Not a Peace Partner, World Is Too Focused on October 7,” FDD Flash Brief

Palestinian Authority Denies Hamas Massacre at Music Festival,” FDD Flash Brief

Anticipating Blinken Visit, Abbas Belatedly Condemns Violence Against Civilians,” FDD Flash Brief

Issues:

Iran Iran Politics and Economy Israel Israel at War Palestinian Politics