Abbas, Hamas and Iran: Courtships for Money and Death

 Palestinian flag Thursday, 20 August 2015 | In a move that reflects Iran's keen interest in Israel, recent reports indicate it may be assigning an ambassador to the 'state of Palestine.' But in developments worthy of a soap opera, the Islamic Republic appears to be snubbing Abbas in favor of a re-established romance with Hamas.

Last week Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sent a member of his party's Executive Committee to Iran. It was a kind of courting call. According to Bethlehem-based Ma'an News Agency, Abbas commissioned Professor Ahmad Majdalani "to improve bilateral relations with the Islamic Republic." In response, Iran expressed a keen interest in strengthening relations with "the state of Palestine," but not with Abbas as its leader. Instead, it sent a mating call to Hamas, scorned by Tehran in recent years because its heart wavered toward Saudi Arabia.

 Iran and Saudi Arabia are two competing giants in the Middle East. Each has participated by proxy in Syria's war where its President Assad, along with ISIS, the Kurds and Syrian rebels are engaged in an endless, bloody embrace. Until 2012, Hamas's heart seemed to be inclined toward Iran. Headquartered in Damascus, it was in immediate proximity to Hezbollah, a well-known member of Iran's proxy harem. One day, however, Hamas succumbed to the charms of the Muslim Brotherhood. With roots in Saudi Arabia and newfound power in Egypt, it was irresistible. When it fell from power under Egypt's General Sisi, Hamas drifted toward the Brotherhood's home, Saudi Arabia.

Part of the appeal Hamas found in the Muslim Brotherhood and, to a lesser degree, Saudi Arabia in general, was a common form of Islam. Both entities, like Hamas, are Sunni while Iran is Shia. But the real razzle-dazzle for Hamas was, and is, money. Now that Iran is about to fill its coffers with billions from sanctions relief, it is ready to outspend Saudi princes and the Brotherhood's bankroll for Hamas's delicate hand.

When he went to Iran a-courting two weeks ago, Majdalani represented the Palestinian Liberation Organization [PLO] led by Abbas. According to Ma'an last week, Majdalani and Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif discussed commercial, educational and political "consultations."

Regarding the latter, Ma'an noted that discussions included "reconciliation between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas." It was a suggestion that, apparently, failed to stimulate 80-year-old Abbas. Still, official word was that he is working hard toward a courting call of his own to Tehran.

Abbas's all-but desperate posture continued two days ago when Ma'an reported that the PLO's Majdalani and Zarif had also discussed the possibility of designated Iranian ambassador to 'Palestine.'

Then, suddenly, Iran slammed the door in Abbas's face, indicating its rekindled passion for Hamas. "Abbas not welcome in Tehran," screamed yesterday's headline in The Times of Israel. In what must have been a government-sanctioned interview with the Hamas publication, Al-Resalah Press, a government advisor to Iran's parliament speaker of foreign affair, made it clear that the Islamic Republic prefers Hamas, not Abbas.

Abbas has "asked to visit Iran more than once and we’ve refused and have never yet said yes," the advisor told Al-Resalah.

What then is Iran's strategy in winning Hamas's hand?

By welcoming a visit from PLO executive committee member Majdalani and then shutting Abbas out in favor of Hamas, Iran is telling the mainstream PLO to embrace new leadership; Hamas leadership, to be precise. For its part, Hamas consistently scores high in West Bank [Judea-Samaria] polls, indicating that given the chance, many there, if not most, would vote for the terrorist organization to replace Abbas.

If Hamas won governance in the West Bank, including recognition by the PLO, it would also win international recognition as the power with whom the world, and Israel, must deal on behalf of Arabs who call themselves Palestinians.

Iran appears to hope, even long, for Hamas to do just that. The very thought of Hamas adorned with the garb of West Bank leadership arouses Iran's desire to consummate its relationship with the terrorist organization.

Accordingly, in its strongest bid for Hamas's hand, the advisor quoted in Al-Resalah told readers why Tehran, not Riyadh, is its best suitor. Boasting about Iran's resistance to international pressure in negotiations regarding its nuclear program, he bragged about a point from which his country never wavered: "We told them that we reject the existence of any Israeli on this earth."

How can Hamas not swoon? The drama continues while Israel prepares for war.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 20 August 2015)

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