Iran Urges Muslim Nations to Defend Palestinians after Trump Move

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday all Muslim nations should work together to defend the rights of Palestinians following Donald Trump’s decision last week to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Mehr News reports.

Rouhani, attending an emergency meeting of Muslim leaders, said the U.S. president’s move showed the United States lacked any respect for the legitimate rights of the Palestinian nation.

“Iran is ready to cooperate with all Muslim countries without any precondition to defend the legitimate rights of Palestinians. Unity among Muslim countries is very important and Quds (Jerusalem) should become our top priority,” Rouhani told the gathering in the Turkish city Istanbul.

Speaking in a Monday phone talk with Ismail Haniyeh, the head of political bureau of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, Iranian president said the Islamic Republic will continue to stand by Palestinians.

“We praise the great Palestinian nation for their resistance and jihad against the Zionist enemy and we are confident that the new intifada [uprising] will continue to follow its right path to restore their rights,” the presidential website quoted Rouhani as saying.

The U.S. decision was announced last Wednesday by U.S. President Donald Trump who said he has ordered his administration to begin preparations for relocating the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Beit-ul-Moqaddas. Rouhani said the Trump move unmasked the true face of the U.S. and Israel. He described the declaration a “plot against Palestine and the Muslim world” that can be thwarted with a united reaction from Muslims, saying they face a crucial test.

“In the first step, Palestinian factions should give a tough response by becoming united and in the second step, the Muslim world should join hands to stand against the evil plot,” he said.

Rouhani further mentioned that the party which is a stranger on the Palestinian land is the Zionist regime because Muslims, Jews and Christians have lived together for centuries in Palestine.

“The wrong decision of the U.S. president to relocate the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem al-Quds was a rude decision as Quds does not only belong to a nation or a geographic region. It is respected by all Muslims in the world and the al-Aqsa mosque is the first kiblah of Muslims,” underlined Rouhani.

Iranian president also noted that today Jerusalem al-Quds is the third holiest place for Muslims in the world, and if Muslims were silent in face of such an illegal decision, they (the U.S. and the Zionists) would have conspired for more sinister plans later on.

“The global arrogance and the Zionists want to test how the Muslim world reacts. As you see, from the very moment that this wrong and illegal decision was announced, people in the Muslim world rose to show their anger. From the easternmost parts of Indonesia, to the westernmost regions of Morocco, all Muslims stood up against the move and condemned the act.”

Iran’s president also added that if Islamic countries maintain their unity, it will be a big victory for Muslims and the region.

“Our message is that the Palestinian cause is the most important issue for the Muslim world. They must condemn this move in all international bodies, particularly the United Nations. Over the years, the United States has turned Palestine into the second issue of the region because of the terrorism that it has expanded in the region. Washington was assuming the issue of Palestine is forgotten; therefore they occupied the land of Palestine for seventy years,” added the Iranian president.

Separately, a senior military commander announced Iran’s readiness to extend support to resistance groups in Palestine. Qasem Soleimani, who commands the IRGC’s Quds Force that is in charge of the body’s exterior operations, made the statement in phone calls with commanders of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades and the Islamic Jihad movement on Monday.

Soleimani, commander of the al-Quds force, made the offer in a phone call late Monday with leaders of groups in Gaza, according to the Revolutionary Guard Corps’ website, Sepah News, which didn’t give details of the assistance proffered. Other forces in the region are ready to defend the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, Soleimani also told the Gaza faction leaders, without identifying them. The mosque is Islam’s third-holiest shrine and a frequent flashpoint for tensions between Israel and the Palestinians.

Iranian parliamentarians have called on Muslim countries to cut off their diplomatic relations with the Israeli regime. In a statement on Tuesday, Iranian lawmakers condemned U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital, and underlined that al-Quds is and will remain a holy site for all Muslims.

“We, the lawmakers of the Iranian Parliament, call on Islamic countries to sever their diplomatic relations with the Zionist regime [of Israel] and also scale down their economic ties with the U.S. to the minimum,” the statement said.

According to the statement, the U.S. “has driven the last nail in the coffin of the so-called peace trend in the Middle East.”

Opposition to Israel and support for the Palestinian cause has been central to Iran’s foreign policy since the Islamic revolution of 1979 that toppled the U.S.-backed Shah. Iran, the leading Shi‘ite Muslim power, and Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia are competing for influence in the Middle East, where they support rival groups in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

Tehran and Riyadh see each other as the paramount threat to regional peace and stability. Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic relations with Iran in 2016 after Iranian protesters attacked Saudi diplomatic missions in Tehran and the city of Mashhad following Riyadh’s execution of a prominent Shi‘ite cleric.

Rouhani said Muslim countries should resolve their disputes through dialogue and he also accused Israel of planting seeds of tension across the Middle East. On his Twitter account, Rouhani said Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital showed that Washington was not “an honest mediator and never will be,” adding that it only wanted to “secure the interests of the Zionists.”