The Islamic Republic of Iran officially endorses the creation of a Palestinian state, regarding Israel as Palestine under occupation by the Zionist regime. Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, rejects a Two state solution and stated that Palestine is inseparable, while Iran's former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for a free referendum for the entire Palestinian population, including Arab citizens of Israel, to determine the type of government in the future Palestinian state, while reiterating that establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel would "never mean an endorsement of the Israeli occupation".
Prior to the 1979 Iranian revolution, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) held close ties with Iranian opposition groups. Following the revolution, Iran ended its alliance with Israel and started supporting the Palestinians, symbolized by turning over the Israeli embassy in Tehran to the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Before the Iranian revolution
Before the Iranian Revolution, Iran and Palestine secretly engaged in trade and military relations, unbeknown to Israel. Iran provided the Palestinian Authority with arms to combat Israeli forces in occupied territories. However, as Iran also maintained clandestine relations with Israel at the time, it had to keep its alliance with Palestine a secret from Israel, and its relations with Israel a secret from Palestine. During the 1967 War, Iran provided Palestinian Militants with funds and ammunition. However, Palestine, as well as the Arab States, lost the war, and Palestinians asked to seek asylum into Iran. Iran, not intending to mar its relations with Israel, chose not to provide the Palestinian refugees with shelter.
After the 1979 Iranian revolution
The PLO backed the 1979 revolution, and several days after the revolution, PLO chief Yasser Arafat led a Palestinian delegation to Iran. Due to the end of Iran-Israeli cooperation, Iran no longer hid its relations with the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. The Palestinian delegates were publicly welcomed, and symbolically handed the keys to the former Israeli embassy in Tehran, which became a Palestinian embassy.
Relations during the Intifada
After the eruption of the second Palestinian intifada, in September 2000 after the collapse of Middle East peace talks at Camp David, Arafat released imprisoned Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants, a decision that restored the relations between Iran and the Palestinian National Authority. The renewed support became evident when Israeli commandos captured the Karine A in 2002, a ship carrying 50 tons of advanced weaponry from Iran to Gaza.
Support for Hamas
Hamas is a militant and political organization currently in power in the Gaza Strip. According to Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority, "Hamas is funded by Iran. It claims it is financed by donations, but the donations are nothing like what it receives from Iran.
Aid to Hamas increased after Arafat’s death in 2004 and Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. Following the Hamas victory in the 2006 Palestinian elections, foreign aid dried up, leading Tehran to send significant financial aid to support the nearly bankrupt, Hamas led Palestinian National Authority.
Statements by Palestinian Authority
Palestinian Authority spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh has said of former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that "The one who does not represent the Iranian people, who falsified election results, who oppressed the Iranian people and stole authority has no right to speak about Palestine, its president or its representatives".
In September 2010, former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that the peace talks in Washington would not achieve their goals, because Hamas is the true representative of the Palestinian people, among other reasons. PA officials responded to these Iranian statements with "unprecedented ferocity". Omar Al-Ghoul replied that the time had come to put an end to Iran's "regime of death and destruction." Fatah spokesman Osama Al-Qawasmi said that Iran is striving to divide Palestine, to spark civil wars and sectarian and ethnic strife in numerous Arab regions, and therefore it cannot benefit the Palestinian people.
- Iran Renews Call for Free Referendum in Palestine
- Rachel Brandenburg, Iran and the Palestinians, United States Institute of Peace
- "Hamas 2010 budget mainly 'foreign aid' from Iran.". Worldtribune.com. 2010-01-05. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
- President Mahmoud Abbas: No To Violence, Terrorism, Gunfire, or Military Intifada. Palestine-pmc.com (2009-12-28). Retrieved on 2010-08-21.
- PA hits back at Ahmadinejad: You have no right to speak about Palestine
- The Palestinian-Israeli Negotiations – A Current Overview, By: C. Jacob and L. Barkan