By Ali A. Jenabzadeh

Normalization is only at the rulers' level, it has not influenced public opinion

May 7, 2021 - 16:8

TEHRAN- Hossein Amirabdollahian, the former Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs in Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and current Special Aide to the speaker of the Parliament in International Affairs tells the Tehran Times that hence most of the Arab regimes which normalized ties with Israel never had a significant role in supporting Palestine and Palestinian cause, their absence in Palestine equations due to normalization will not have any significant impact on the process of Palestine’s liberation.

Elaborating Iran’s initiative for a free referendum in Palestine, Amirabdollahian says, “The Islamic Republic of Iran suggested the plan for holding a democratic referendum among all the original Palestinians. When we say ‘the original Palestinians’ we mean that those brought to Palestine from Europe and elsewhere have no grace in the historical, civilizational, and religious land of Palestine”. 

Following is the full text of the interview:

Q: Today, with more than 70 years of occupation of the Palestinian land by Israel, we still see that the Muslim world has not made an effective move to deal with this occupation. What are the reasons for the divergence of the Muslim world against Israel?

A: In the first years of the occupation of the Palestinian land, the feelings and enthusiasm of the Muslim world were very high. The anti- Zionist feelings were very identical while some Arab countries entered into a war called the 6-Day war with the Zionist regime. In those years, what had happened was that although the fake Israeli regime was weak, strong Arab armies failed to defeat it. After that, we saw that at the popular level and public opinion, there was no change in the people's enthusiasm in support of the Palestinian cause, but at the level of rulers, Anwar Sadat was the first to sign a deal to normalize relations with the Zionist regime. By 2006, two decades after the victory of the Islamic Revolution, a new passion emerged for support of Palestine. Imam Khomeini played an essential role in reviving the Palestinian issue. In the past three decades, also, the Leader at various levels in the Islamic Republic has given special attention to this issue. The support of the resistance, the dynamic movement of the resistance, seems to have shifted the equation in favor of Palestinians and to the detriment of the Zionist regime.
The Zionists inside Israel are facing dead ends and many crises today after 70 years. In the domestic scene of the fake Israeli regime, we see that the fourth election has been held. The officials came to a political stalemate that cannot forge a coalition. This is a flaw in the system. This is not a democracy. Netanyahu has employed every possible corruption and abuse of power inside the Zionist regime for many years as the hangman of the Zionists.
If the Zionists had real democracy, their prime minister wouldn't have passed through all the courts and grappled with embezzlement and all kinds of corruption. The stalemate in different areas is indeed recognizable. Regarding resistance, the Zionist regime needs to secure its safety, but incendiary kites to rockets and sophisticated missiles threaten their safety. Resistance is depicting itself as a strong pillar in Lebanon and Palestine behind Zionists' concrete walls. The resistance has taken extraordinary measures at different junctures in the 33- day war in Lebanon in the 22 - day war, 51- day war, 8- day war, and two-day war of Gaza.
Q: In recent years, we saw that some Arab countries showed a willingness to forge relations with Israel. What causes this proximity?

A: Nations are separate from the rulers. Those who suffer from a lack of legitimacy lie side by side with an illegitimate regime. First, when we speak of Arab rulers today, we refer to those who take steps, normalize their relationship, and claim that it would cover only economic ties and tourism like Bahrain and UAE. In UAE, a family is ruling, and Bahrain has a ruling regime with a deep rift. Now you know the structure in the UAE and Bahrain politically. Therefore, while it is said that the Arab world is leading to divergence and approximates the Zionist regime, it is not an exact expression. Still, many exaggerate, for example, say that Iran's problem with the Arab world should be solved. We don't have problems with the Arab world, and the Arab world has no problem with us. Didn't we just come to support Syria for nearly a decade? Isn't Syria a part of the Arab world? Have we not stood by Iraq since 2003? In Saddam's time, I was on a diplomatic mission in Iraq. At that time, on the streets of Baghdad, Arab sentiments were extraordinary. Once, the current Saudi King Salman was quoted that he has expressed concern at a meeting of his close circle about the Arbaeen scenes and million-man march, saying that "I do not know what has happened to the Iraqis who have forgotten their origins as Arabs." The Iraqis did not forget their origins as Arabs. They are Arabs, and we have supported Arab Iraq. Is our support of Hamas and Islamic Jihad and Palestine the support of non-Arabs? Is our support of Lebanon the support of non- Arabs? Iran is supporting Arabs. They say Iran- Arab relations have been damaged. This is not true. It is "Iran-Saudi relations" that have faced difficulties due to the non-constructive role of Saudi Arabia in the region, not Iran-Arab relations. A new chapter is about to start. We hope that Muhammad Salman's statements would have operational support and witness positive steps by the Saudi officials to end unconstructive measures towards the Islamic Republic of Iran and the region.
Sometimes my students, or some diplomats, intellectuals, and think tanks, ask me why Iran has just one strategy for Palestine and Quds, which is resistance? Isn't there another option other than the missile? Isn't there another way other than fighting? Of course, there is. The Islamic Republic of Iran suggested the plan for holding a democratic referendum among all the original Palestinians. When we say "the original Palestinians," we mean that those brought to Palestine from Europe and elsewhere have no grace in the historical, civilizational, and religious land of Palestine. But for them, we have democratic words. The Islamic Republic of Iran has developed a plan that the Leader has made some references to. The plan is registered in the United Nations and has been published in five official languages: Russian, Chinese, Arabic, French, and English. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, we believe that Palestinians must hold a referendum. All Palestinians, whether abroad, those living in the camps, and those who live in the Palestinian territory, have to use their right of self-determination.
They must form a democratically elected government. Who must participate in the referendum? The original Palestinians, including Jews, Christians, and Muslims. The vote of the same people must form the Palestinian government. And the government that is created must make decisions about the future of Palestine. How could it be managed? How must the unwanted visitor be dealt with? This has a political solution that the Islamic Republic has suggested. But the Zionists, who have ruled the occupied lands for the past 70 years and even have taken the Jews in captivity, are unwilling to accept such a plan. Today, many political leaders and world intellectuals who read the Iranian plan are surprised by how political and democratic it is. But the Zionists believe in the logic of war. Their rationale is to possess nuclear weapons. Their rationale is the logic of killing children and women. Those who face a stalemate in holding their own elections and cannot reach a consensus on making their government will not accept such a constructive plan.
Q: Does the Islamic Republic have a plan for occupied Palestine, such as what happened to South Africa's apartheid and the new system came to power and removed inequalities?

A: We can't use the example of South Africa to describe the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories. South Africa was a real country, not a fake one. It was not occupied land, but we are talking about an illegitimate, occupying, and fake regime when it comes to Israel, which is rotten in essence.

The political plan of the Islamic Republic of Iran is based on the right to self-determination in international law and has been accepted by all. There is a reference in the Holy Quran. You can also find its references in the Bible and the Torah. People have the right to determine their fate. But when we say that our views are not just about Palestinian Muslims, we mean that the historical inhabitants of Palestine, meaning Muslims and Christians, and Jews, must decide on their fate. The representatives of the people can determine the fate of these uninvited guests. Iran's plan has exact details. How the election will be held under the auspices of the United Nations, how it should be financed, all the details have been envisaged in the plan. It has been an effective plan that has been registered as Iran's initiative in the United Nations.

Q: The normalization of relations between some Arab countries with Israel today is regarded as a critical issue for the Muslim world and a severe blow. What is the reason behind this normalization when the Palestinians are facing the highest pressures and violations of rights by the Israelis?

A: Today, in the Arab world, the influential countries are Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, even Saudi Arabia. Bahrain was once an Iranian island separated by the Shah of Iran's betrayal. Today it is a political unit.
Bahrain and the UAE have just begun to form in the last decades, almost from the 1970s. What's been the contribution of the rulers of these countries in supporting the Palestinian cause in these years? Have they played any role at all? What's their stance in the equation? Now, let's ask, what happens when they publicly announce their support from Israel?
I think nothing! They never had a significant role in supporting Palestine, so once they unveiled their relations with Israel, an insignificant role disappeared utterly. It doesn't make a significant change. 
Bahraini or the Emirates rulers have never really played a role in helping the Palestinian people and resistance. So it's not accurate to say that the supporters of resistance are now supporters of the Zionist regime. Saudi Arabia may have had links to the Israelis in secret, but it will pay a massive price if it called for the normalization of relations with the Zionist regime. Therefore, this is very important. Remember the circus that was launched on the balcony of the White House a few months ago and forced the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to sign an agreement. You saw Trump's behavior with them when he ordered them to sign an agreement with Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of the Zionist regime. It was an absolute insult to the nation of Bahrain and the nation of the UAE. The foreign ministers themselves were ashamed of what they did. But what was the impact of this show on the Palestinian issue? Nothing! Because these countries have no place at all in the equations of the Palestinian cause.

On the contrary, Syria is an example of the Arab countries on Palestine's side. Syria helped Palestine during the realm of Hafez al-Assad as well as Mr. Bashar al-Assad. We also have the case of Lebanon and the Lebanese resistance against the Zionist regime. Lebanon has a compromise plan to deal with the Zionist regime. So does Syria and even Iraq. But countries like Bahrain and UAE plaything on the balcony of the White House, and in practice, there will be no special surprises and no change in the Palestinian equation.

Q: Do you think the countries that have normalized ties with Israel or will do so will be in trouble with their nations internally? The normalization project is entirely in contradiction with the sympathy of their people with Palestinians. How are these rulers seeking to justify their public opinion?
A: First, their structure is different. Second, In Bahrain, for instance, the government has problems with its people. There is a deep rift between the people of Bahrain and the Al-Khalifa. The challenge is so severe that you can see it on the streets of Bahrain right now. You can see it in cyberspace and the media. People react to this issue. What UAE and Bahraini officials did was stabbing Palestine in the back. No one can overlook their wickedness. But their impact on the Palestin's equations is zero.
Q: What is your opinion of the agreement known as the Abraham Accords between Israel and America?
A: The Israelis and Americans have called the accords to sanctify their evil intentions. It is all but adherence to Abrahamian values line. They misused Abraham's name.
Q: Israel seems intent to portray Iran as a threat to the region by increasing ties with these Arab countries via this agreement. Its argument implies that since Israel and some Arab countries have normal relations and Iran doesn't comply with such relations, Iran is the destabilizing factor in the region. What is your analysis?
A: To recognize a country as legitimate, it must be present in a series of our regional structures, such as in the Arab League or regional mechanisms relevant to the Muslim world. No one recognizes the Zionist regime as a legitimate country in the region.

Their people and public opinion challenged the countries that established relations with Israel. Egypt has established diplomatic ties with the Zionists for decades. Still, it is interesting that whenever I visited Egypt during these years, I witnessed how much attention is paid by media outlets, media figures, and the elites in Egypt to the support of Palestine by Iran.

 That is what Iran did at the level of discourse and action. The Zionists have an embassy in Cairo. But the resentment of public opinion in Cairo against Israel and their support of Palestine is at its peak. Suppose you asked me about the factors behind Mr. Mohammed Morsi's failure at the top of the government where the revolutionaries voted in favor. In that case, I will say that one reason for this was that Mr. Morsi wrote a letter to the President of the fake Israeli regime in the first few months. Because of this, 90% of the people and the revolutionaries turned against him since they did not expect Morsi to do what Hosni Mubarak did in the name of the Revolution and Islam. This is the Egypt we are talking about, a country with rich civilization and history. We're not talking about a country that's only 30-40 years old.
In Egypt, the Israelis have an embassy, but they have a complicated situation in public opinion. The slightest change in the regimes can disrupt everything. It shows that these relations have no depth. The governments have authority and power and have made connections in this regard. Zionists are certainly doing their most to divide the Muslim world. It must be a Trump card for them. Once they forge an agreement with a small country like Bahrain and its rulers, they think they've undermined the unity between the Islamic countries. But that's just a delusion.

 Some of the leaders of the Arab world have a secret relationship with the Zionist regime. Recently, the UAE and Bahrain have also made their ties public. Still, there are ongoing discussions to establish embassy and other relations that the countries' public opinion does not allow so easily to happen. But these did not affect the Palestinian equation. It is a lie that Iran does not support peace and security. We will not support the illegitimate regime of Israel in any circumstances.

So, what happened is only at the rulers' level, and it has not influenced public opinion. They are still behind the Palestinian issue.

The Zionist regime, in its nature, seeks the initiative called "from the Nile to the Euphrates." It wants to conquer the entire land between the two rivers. The Islamic Republic of Iran can't sit at its borders to ensure maximum national security when a corrupted ideology like this exists in the region. 

Today, the national security concept has become significantly complicated. That said, it is essential to consider:
1 - We defend Palestine for the sake of our national security.
2 - We defend Palestine for the sake of Islamic divine values that we must follow.
3 - We support Palestine, believing that it is the first Qibla of the Muslims.
The other fundamental point is that the Zionists do not understand any language other than resistance and power. Therefore, today, the existence of the illegitimate Israeli regime is linked to the security of the region and is tied to the safety of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its allies.
Q: Why Imam Khomeini named the Quds day?

A: Imam looked for the creation of unity and Islamic solidarity to deal with the Zionist regime. Imam's famous sentence is that if each of the individuals in each Islamic country gets a bucket of water and pores it toward Israel, the flood will vanish this regime. Imam called Quds Day as a symbol for the unification of the Muslim world and not just the Muslim world but also human conscience at the support of the oppressed Palestinian people, and aimed to increase the unity between the countries of the world, especially Islamic countries, in support of the Palestinian cause and the liberation of the Quds.
The Islamic Republic of Iran recognizes only one country: the Palestinian state with Quds as its capital.

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