PA shares Israel's nuclear Iran fears

Prime Minister Fayyad

Prime Minister Fayyad

The Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Salam Fayyad, has attacked the behaviour of Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and said that he shares Western - and Israeli - concerns with the Iranians' nuclear project.

Speaking in his Ramallah headquarters, Prime Minister Fayyad said that the Palestinians were "greatly harmed" by the Iranian leader's conduct.

President Ahmadinejad, he said, should stop acting as a supposed spokesman for the Palestinians. The Iranian president was concerned only with increasing Iranian influence in the region.

This is the first time that a Palestinian leader has been so explicit in condemning Iranian involvement in the conflict. Iran funds and supplies both Hizbollah and Hamas, the main opposition to Prime Minister Fayyad's Fatah party.

The Iranian leader's involvement, he said, made an already bad situation far worse: "We are greatly harmed by President Ahmadinejad projecting himself as a spokesman for the Palestinians. He seeks the destruction of Israel. We do not. We are deeply troubled by Iran's interventions and we suffer from them."

Prime Minister Fayyad also said that he was concerned about the Iranian regime developing a nuclear weapon, and contrasted Iran with the Palestinian state he was seeking to build, which would be "secular, open and culturally sensitive".

He said that he was "not sanguine" about Turkey "beginning to throw its weight around". Turkey has traditionally had good relations with both the Palestinians and Israel, but its relations with Israel have collapsed in recent months and it is widely seen as trying to establish itself as a regional power.

The Palestinian PM, who is regarded by Israel and the West as a moderate who should be supported, also said that there was little prospect of unity talks between Hamas and Fatah succeeding: "Hamas's actions are not consistent with reconciliation." Last Friday a Fatah delegation was barred from entering Gaza for talks.

The main precondition for any unity agreement between the two organisations was for Hamas "formally to accept non-violence. But they won't change their platform." In addition, Hamas's acceptance of a timetable for elections in Gaza was "a bellwether test for serious reconciliation".

Last updated: 3:38pm, January 12 2012