As expected, President Trump’s peace plan received widespread condemnation from official Iranian spokesmen as well as most media outlets in Iran. (Iran marked the death of Prophet Muhammad’s daughter Fatima this week, yet no newspapers covered that.) Iranian media emphatically broadcast the condemnations of the plan by the Palestinian organizations (Hamas and Islamic Jihad) and by the Palestinian Authority Chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, and Hizbullah. The press called for a unified Muslim front against the plan.
Iranian leader Khamenei’s webpage presented an updated eight-minute video on January 29, 2020, describing all the “traitorous” peace treaties signed between Israel and the Arab states, including the Oslo Accords, Camp David (2000), the Arab Peace Initiative, and the “Deal of the Century.” At the end of the video, the Iranian solution is presented in which the Iranian leader stressed that the “military, political, ethical, and cultural activities must be continued in order to liberate Palestine until those who oppressed the Palestinians will agree to a Palestinian referendum.”1 Alongside the video of the “Deal of the Century,” Khamenei’s website has a permanent display of the leader’s stance over the years in various languages, including his solution towards the Palestinian issue.2
“Nightmare for the Region and the World”
Foreign Minister of Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif described the plan on Twitter as a “nightmare for the region and the world” and said, “The so-called ‘Vision for Peace’ is simply the dream project of a bankruptcy-ridden real estate developer.”3 Zarif added, “It is a wake-up call for all the Muslims barking up the wrong tree.” The foreign minister attached a tweet to the peace plan map, where he erased the title “Vision for Peace” and in its place wrote in red letters “Sleepwalking into Catastrophe.”
Iran Is Ready to Lead the Campaign against the Plan
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi called the deal the “Betrayal of the Century” destined for failure and called on the “free peoples of the region and the world” to fight it. He declared that Iran was ready to take on the task of “fighting the conspiracy against Muslim lands.” He said that the Palestinians have full rights to the occupied lands, and defined the “Zionist entity (Israel) as conquerors and subjugators.” He insisted that the only solution to the Palestinian problem is through holding a national referendum in which some of the residents of Israel (Palestinians, Jews, and Christians) would participate. According to the Iranian perspective, only Israeli citizens who were “alive at the time of the creation of the state (1948) would participate in the referendum.”
Mousavi also addressed the Muslim world: “Unfortunately, although the Jerusalem issue is at the heart of the Muslim world, some Islamic countries (alluding to Saudi Arabia, the Gulf, and Sunni states) purposely see or strategically forgot Zionist crimes against humanity and view the [Israeli] enemy as a friend.”
The Opportunity to Form the Axis of Resistance
Iran opposes any attempt to reach a compromise with Israel under any peace plan, including the Arab Initiative. Iran will try to leverage Trump’s peace initiative to represent itself as leading the fight against Israel, in contrast to the weakness of the Sunni Arab states and especially the Gulf States, which are ready to thaw their relations with Israel and even sign peace agreements with it. Iran is expected to take this opportunity to increase military aid to the Palestinian organizations and even to pull together what it calls the “resistance front.” As far as Iran is concerned, this is convenient timing after the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, which will enable Iran to demonstrate that Iran is continuing his path of resistance – the man who established and led the resistance camp. Iran can even present the struggle against the peace agreement as part of the Iranian “revenge” for Soleimani’s assassination.
Moreover, Iran’s staunch opposition to the Trump plan is expected to further exacerbate its relations with the United States and Europe and change the atmosphere in the event of renewed dialogue on the nuclear agreement. It could even intensify Iran’s regional and international isolation. Regionally, tensions may arise between Iran and Sunni Arab states who support Trump’s peace plan, albeit tepidly.
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