DUBAI/TEHRAN: Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that Iran would support the Palestinian uprising against Israel “in any way we can”, and rejected US accusations that a recent wave of Palestinian knife and car-ramming attacks amounted to “terrorism”.
Khamenei was speaking a day after US Secretary of State John Kerry, during a visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories, described the spate of attacks as “terrorism” that should be condemned.
Israel and the United States have long accused Iran of supplying arms to the Palestinian group Hamas, considered by Washington as a terrorist organisation. Tehran says it gives only moral, financial and humanitarian support.
“Despite all the efforts of the Arrogance (the United States) … and even with cooperation from Arab countries, the Palestinian intifada (uprising) has started in the West Bank,” state television quoted Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying.
“We will defend the movement of the Palestinian people with all of our existence, and in any way and as long as we can,” Khamenei reportedly told a gathering of the Basij, Iran’s volunteer militia.
Khamenei criticised those who call Palestinians “terrorists” saying they were people protesting the occupation of their land.
Since October 1, at least 86 Palestinians have been killed, some while carrying out assaults and others in clashes with Israeli forces. At least 19 Israelis and an American have been killed in Palestinian retaliation.
The bloodshed has been fueled by Muslim agitation over increased Jewish visits to East Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound – Islam’s third holiest place which is also revered by Jews as the site of two biblical-era temples.
The Palestinians are also frustrated by the failure of decades of peace talks to deliver them an independent state.
‘US using money, sex to infiltrate Iran’
Khamenei claimed the United States is using “money and sexual attractions” to infiltrate the Islamic Republic and warned Iranians not to fall into the “enemy’s trap”.
Ayatollah told Revolutionary Guard commanders that authorities should take concerns about “infiltration” seriously and political factions should not use the issue against each other.
“The enemy sets up a network within a nation and inside a country mainly through the two means of money and sexual attractions to change ideals, beliefs and consequently the lifestyle,” he said in comments posted on his website and broadcast on state TV.
His comments appeared to lend support to a recent wave of arrests of pro-Western writers and journalists, which hard-liners in the judiciary and security services have said is necessary to prevent Western infiltration.
Iran’s moderate President Hassan Rouhani criticized the arrests earlier this month, saying hard-liners are “exaggerating the issue” and misusing Khamenei’s warnings as an excuse for the detentions.
The recent arrests of pro-Western writers, journalists and filmmakers are widely seen as part of a backlash by hard-liners in the wake of the landmark nuclear agreement reached with the US. and five other world powers last summer. Hard-liners fear the deal could lead to a broader rapprochement between Tehran and Washington that would undermine and ultimately end the Islamic Republic.
Khamenei, who has the final say on all matters of state, said that “if some are making factional use of this (infiltration), it’s a mistake. But these words should not lead to ignoring and forgetting the main issue of infiltration.”
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The 2018 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference is scheduled for April 8 to 11 in Boao, Hainan Province. The forum will be themed "An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity."
— The Daily Mail - People's Daily