During a meeting on June 14, 2023, between Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, and Ziad al-Nakhalah, Secretary-General of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Khamenei emphasized that the “current situation of the Zionist regime is vastly different compared to 70 years ago….The Zionist enemy is now in a passive and reactive position…while the resistance groups, including Islamic Jihad, have accurately identified the path forward.” The meeting won a front-page headline in Kayhan, Khamenei’s mouthpiece.
Khamenei emphasized the importance of taking necessary risks to achieve meaningful goals and pointed out the Palestinian resistance groups’ growing strength and credibility, including Islamic Jihad. He cited the “recent defeat of the Zionist regime in the five-day war” (referring to Israel’s Operation Shield and Arrow) as evidence of this strengthening.
He commended Islamic Jihad for performing well and emphasized that “the conditions for the Zionist regime have changed, and the Zionist leaders are right to be concerned that they may not see the regime’s 80th anniversary.”
The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution also highlighted the pivotal role of Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian resistance groups in confronting the Zionist regime, emphasizing that they have found the essential key to effectively combating their enemy: “The growing power of the resistance groups in the West Bank is the key that can bring the Zionist enemy to its knees, and it is crucial that we continue along this path.”
Khamenei’s frequent meetings with the Islamic Jihad leadership highlight the organization’s crucial role and perceived value in countering Israel. As a protégé of Iran, Islamic Jihad is distinguished from Hamas, which maintains a relatively more independent operational approach.
Nakhalah, in turn, hailed Iran’s unwavering support for Palestinians while “no other country in the world takes such a stance so explicitly.” PIJ’s secretary-general pointed to a meeting in Tehran between senior officials of Hamas and Islamic Jihad and the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as “a testament to Tehran’s support for the Palestinian resistance factions” that also “highlights strong ties between PIJ, Hamas and the Islamic Republic.”
Ziad al-Nakhalah also met on June 17 with Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, the Majlis Speaker. Qalibaf emphasized the significance of Palestine as the forefront of the Resistance Front and highlighted the unity among various groups and movements fighting against the Zionist regime. He also mentioned the “internal insecurity, economic problems, and weakening of the Zionist regime,” stating that these factors have made it weaker.
Referring to the recent war in Gaza, al-Nakhalah hailed the current resistance in the West Bank and acknowledged Iran’s prominent role in assisting “the resistance in Palestine.”
Al-Nakhalah also met with Ali Akbar Ahmadian, the representative of the Supreme Leader and the newly appointed Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC). Ahmadian also highlighted the “declining status of the Zionist regime and the rising power of the Resistance Front.” The SNSC secretary stated that supporting the PIJ is a fundamental policy of Iran and “that the expansion of resistance cells throughout Palestine would lead to the collapse of the Zionist regime.”
Ahmadian highlighted the “significance of the West Bank joining the resistance movement, stating that it has opened a new field against the Zionist regime.” Ahmadian also emphasized that “normalizing relations with the regime occupying Jerusalem would be detrimental to the security and national interests of the region.” The Leader’s representative argued that such normalization threatens regional security and undermines social capital in the Arab and Islamic world, ultimately jeopardizing national security.
Hamas Leaders Join the Iranian Party
Hamas politburo leader Ismail Haniyeh arrived in Tehran on June 19, 2023, heading a Hamas delegation, and meeting on June 21 with Khamenei and earlier with President Ebrahim Raisi. Khamenei reiterated the importance of the West Bank, saying that “Gaza is the center of resistance, while the point that will bring the enemy to its knees is the West Bank.” Raisi stated that “It is useless to negotiate with this [Zionist] regime and the only possible way to face it is resistance.” He reiterated that any attempt to normalize relations with Israel is a betrayal of the Palestinian cause: “The supporters of the Zionist regime who seek to normalize relations of some Islamic countries with the Zionist regime should know that this will not create security for the regime and these countries should also know that this will only generate hatred for them from their own people and Muslim nations.”1
Haniyeh expressed gratitude for the continuous support of Iran “for the liberation of Quds” (Jerusalem) and stated, “Today, the Resistance Front, not only in Gaza but also in the West Bank, the occupied territories of 1948, and even among Palestinians and supporters of Palestine outside this land, is expanding and strengthening.” In Haniyeh’s meeting with SNSC’s secretary, Ahmadian emphasized the resistance as the most effective strategy “to put an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, which has persisted for over seven decades.”
Nakhalah mentioned that additional officials from various Palestinian factions are due in Iran in the coming days to “assess the current situation in occupied Palestine and establish a unified stance in their efforts to bring an end to the Israeli occupation.” Nakhalah emphasized that these meetings underscore the “unity of the resistance alliance against the Israeli regime” that will yield positive outcomes for the region.
Khamenei declared in 2014, “I believe the West Bank should be armed just like Gaza,” and action must be taken in this direction. On multiple occasions since 2014, senior commanders of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have made efforts – mainly Gen. Qassem Soleimani’s IRGC Quds Force — to arm Palestinians in the West Bank on orders from Supreme Leader Khamenei.
In August 2022, following the Israel Defense Forces’ Operation Breaking Dawn against Islamic Jihad in Gaza, a meeting occurred between Iranian Revolutionary Guards Major General Hossein Salami and Islamic Jihad’s Secretary-General Ziad al-Nakhalah. Reports from Gaza indicate that the meeting resulted in an agreement to enhance Islamic Jihad’s activities in the northern West Bank.
During an interview on Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s website, Salami declared that Iran would provide arms to the resistance forces in the West Bank, similar to its support in Gaza. He confirmed that the process had already commenced. “The West Bank becomes a significant factor in the equation….Khamenei has emphasized the importance of arming the West Bank.” He ridiculed Israel’s inability to halt the influx of weapons into the West Bank: “Acquiring weapons today has become more accessible compared to the past. The development, production, and transportation of weapons have become increasingly streamlined and accessible, catching the Israelis off guard in most cases.”
The high-level meetings align with a surge of terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria (West Bank), including some perpetrated by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Hamas. These attacks have served as a source of encouragement for Iran as it seeks to establish the West Bank as an additional battleground in its ongoing conflict with Israel.
Each round of escalation in Gaza or the West Bank reinforces the determination to fulfil the Supreme Leader’s directive. For Iran, the West Bank represents another significant pillar in its overall strategy to encircle Israel. Tehran aims to establish deterrence against Israel, both ideologically and in terms of national security, by leading the fight against Israel and Zionism, while safeguarding its nuclear program, which, it believes, ensures the regime’s survival. In this context, Iran urges Muslim countries, particularly those that have normalized relations with Israel or are in the process of doing so, to halt the normalization process and instead join the humanitarian support efforts for the Palestinians.
In any case, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force commanders are working to implement the Supreme Leader’s orders and Qassem Soleimani’s plans to arm terrorist organizations in the West Bank.
Photo Gallery: Ziad Nakhalah, Secretary-General of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, is in close contact with all of Iran’s leadership.
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