The President of the Palestinian Authority, Israel's "partner for peace" Mahmoud Abbas, is pivoting away from the West and looking East instead. His new initiatives with Iran include a permanent channel of two-way information and a "foreign minister" to facilitate communications.
In an exclusive report based on Israeli intelligence sources, DEBKAfile is reporting that there are several reasons why Abbas is aggressively pursuing the mullahs in Tehran.
ONE REASON is his perception that the new US President, Donald Trump, is unlikely to continue America's enabling of PA rhetoric that demands recognition of a Palestinian state while refusing to acknowledge Israel as Jewish one.
It is no surprise, then, that Abbas's outreach to the Islamic Republic is taking place just before Trump meets with Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu tomorrow, on Wednesday, 15 February. Indications are that, in spite of some differences between the two men, the spirit of the meeting is likely to exude a level of camaradarie Israel has not known with a US president in many years, if ever.
What has Abbas done?
Israel intelligence knows a lot. Sources from that community have told DEBKAfile that "Abbas has opened a direct channel of communications between Ramallah and Tehran as a permanent fixture."
The ruling political party of the Palestinian Authority is Fatah. Its Central Committee member Jibril Rajoub has been put in charge of the Palestinian end of the relationship. He will also "lead the first official Palestinian delegation to Tehran."
For some months now, Rajoub "has served as Abbas’s senior spokesman and the Palestinian Authority’s 'foreign minister.'"
ANOTHER REASON Abbas is pivoting East is religion. Although the PA claims to be a non-religious entity, its constitution names Islam as "the official religion in Palestine" and states that its governance is rooting in "the principles of Islamic sharia." The president is also required to swear an oath to Allah. Notably, too, the organization's has established a long history of justifying terror attacks against Israel in the name of jihad for the glory of Allah.
Only last month, for example, its 'foreign minister' Rajoub said, “In our opinion moving the embassy to Jerusalem is a declaration of war on the Muslims.” He was referring to Trump's campaign pledge to do this very thing.
The pivot toward Iran, named an Islamic Republic with caliphate ambitions for an apocalyptic messianic figure called the Mahdi, is further evidence of the PA's Islamist ideology, its secular status notwithstanding.
In fact, Israel intelligence told DEBKAfile, "two weeks ago, Palestinian and Iranian delegations met secretly for the first time in a European country. Two more encounters followed and dealt with such urgent matters as the fate of Palestinians stranded on Syria’s battlefronts and in former refugee camps. They also discussed the Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon and their problematic relations with Iran’s Shiite surrogate, Hezbollah.
"At their third meeting, the Iranian delegates asked where the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah stood vis-a-vis a political resolution of the Syrian conflict. They decided to talk about this some more at the next Iranian-Palestinian meeting on a date this month and a location yet to be arranged.
"As part of his pivot towards Tehran, Abbas made sure to send the Palestinian Authority’s warm congratulations to Iran’s rulers on the anniversary of their Islamic revolution: He asked Allah “to bring more stability and prosperity to Iran and its brotherly people as they celebrate this occasion, and more progress and advancement the brotherly relations between our peoples.”
Abbas's pivot toward Iran carries messages for the US, Russia, Egypt, the Gulf States and Jordan.
The message to Trump is that, if he follows through on moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, Abbas, in turn, is moving his superpower allegiance to Tehran.
The message to Putin is, "you cannot abandon us for the sake of a new alliance with the US. You cannot abandon us because we are partnering with your other partner, Iran."
As for Arab states that are increasingly aligning themselves with Israel against Iran, the message was that these states "had better be prepared to find Tehran’s imprint in Ramallah too."