Ramallah turns against Tehran

By Meir Javedanfar, September 7, 2010

Last Sunday, the PLO leadership launched a major verbal assault against Iran's president.

"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," said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for the PA.

The outburst came in response to continuous attacks by the Iranian government, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in particular, on the recent peace talks. What also seems to anger Fatah is that the Iranian president speaks as if he is in charge of Palestinian affairs, and not those who live in Ramallah.

The Egyptian government, too, is furious at a recent verbal assault by Iran's foreign minister, who described Arab countries who back the recent talks as "traitors". While the PLO showed its anger through words, the Egyptians abruptly cancelled a scheduled visit by the Iranian FM to Cairo.

The PLO's response did not go unnoticed. The Tehran based Asr Iran publication described it as "unprecedented" and claimed that the PLO had coordinated the attack with Cairo.

As a result, the PLO leadership is going to endear itself to Iran's opposition. Unlike Hizbollah and Hamas, who immediately congratulated Mr Ahmadinejad after his controversial
re-election, the PLO has hit Mr Ahmadinejad where it hurts, publicly declaring his election a fraud. This attack may be a year late, but it will still be music to the ears of the opposition.

The development also allows the Green movement to question and undermine the legitimacy of Mr Ahmadinejad's Palestine policy.

Meanwhile, the strained relations with Egypt have also come at a bad time for Iran. With international sanctions increasing and the Hariri trial in Lebanon nearing its end, the Iranian government will be looking to contain the damage with moderate Arab states, as it is expected that Hizbollah will be found guilty. The recent fallout could make this harder.

"A bad cause requires many words," says a German proverb. The recent flurry of words from Tehran and the reaction in Ramallah and Cairo has shown that Iran's opposition to the peace talks is one "bad" cause for Iran's hardliners.

Last updated: 9:23am, September 8 2010