PA President Mahmoud Abbas met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the sidelines of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Summit, marking the second meeting between the two leaders within the past year. In Cairo, Abbas thanked Ahmadinejad for Iran’s vote in favor of upgrading the status of the Palestinians at the UN to that of a non-member observer state. During the meeting, Abbas discussed with Ahmadinejad ways of improving relations between Fatah and Hamas, as well as the Palestinian Authority’s financial crisis.

Iran has for a long time been providing assistance to Abbas’s rivals, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. However, the Iranian regime has had a falling out with Hamas, who is opposed to supporting the Assad regime in Syria following the democide that Assad is committing against his own people. Iranian officials took this very badly, viewing it as a sign of lack of loyalty on the part of Hamas. It still remains to be seen whether Iran will respond by starting to back Fatah over Hamas. However, at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Summit, Abbas did call upon other Islamic countries to help him overcome his financial crisis that has come into being as a result of Abbas attempting to establish a state in the absence of peace negotiations with Israel.

Earlier on within the past year, Abbas actually visited Iran, which had hosted a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement. Abbas decided to accept the invitation of the Iranian leadership and attend this meeting, despite the fact that such a visit further demonstrates to Israelis that he is no partner for peace. Iran is playing a pivotal role in assisting Syria in committing war crimes against the Syrian people. So far, 60,000 people have been slaughtered in Syria and the number of causalities continues to rise. In fact, Abbas attended this meeting in Iran and continues to try to reach out to Iran, even though thousands of Palestinians have been forced to flee the atrocities of the Iranian-backed Syrian regime.

As one Israeli official stated, “Abbas has to decide to get off the fence and decide who he is with. He cannot say he believes in peace and reconciliation, and on the other hand embrace […] the Iranian leadership.” The official claimed that Abbas can not profess to be a partner for peace with Israel “if he is a partner with these extreme elements.” However, if one puts the fact that Fatah is significantly more secular than the Iranian leadership, as well as the Sunni-Shia divide, aside, Abbas does have some things in common with Ahmadinejad that could be utilized to formalize a partnership.

For example, Mahmoud Abbas wrote his PHD thesis on The Other Side: the Secret Relationship between Nazism and Zionism. In his thesis, he claimed that it was a “myth” and “fantastic lie” that six million Jews died in the Holocaust, arguing that the number who actually died was less than a million. He furthermore asserted, “A partnership was established between Hitler’s Nazis and the leadership of the Zionist movement … [the Zionists gave] permission to every racist in the world, led by Hitler and the Nazis, to treat Jews as they wish, so long as it guarantees immigration to Palestine.”

Similarly, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stated, “Today, they [Europeans] have created a myth in the name of Holocaust and consider it to be above God, religion and the prophets … This is our proposal: give a part of your own land in Europe, the United States, Canada or Alaska to them [Jews] so that the Jews can establish their country.” In another instance, Ahmadinejad stated, “If there is serious doubt over the Holocaust, there is no doubt over the catastrophe and holocaust being faced by the Palestinians. Holocaust has been continuing in Palestine over the past 60 years.” The Holocaust issue is merely one similarity between Abbas and Ahmadinejad, for both leaders are also opposed to Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State in the Land of Israel.

By Rachel Avraham