Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad renewed his long-simmering dispute with elected Palestinian leaders, contending in an interview with NBC News this week that Palestinian officials negotiating with Israel did not represent the Palestinian people.
Ahmadinejad told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Wednesday that it was fine for the Israeli and Palestinian governments to pursue their recently renewed talks in Washington and several Middle East capitals, but he dismissed them as “separate from the main Palestinian issue” and said they would have “no results.”Ahmadinejad and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have feuded since 2007, when Iran backed the takeover of Gaza by the militant Palestinian group Hamas. The Palestinian government is divided, with Abbas leading the Palestinian National Authority from the West Bank and Hamas controlling the Gaza Strip.
Abbas is leading the negotiations with Israel, which Hamas rejects.
Ahmadinejad said earlier this month that the peace process was bound to fail and criticized some Muslim leaders for not providing all-out support to the Palestinians in their revolt against Israel.
“This method is not the right one,” he said Wednesday. “Let them talk, but we think that this is not the solution to the Palestinian issue.”Ahmadinejad, who is scheduled to attend next week’s U.N. General Assembly session in New York, made his comments on the eve of the Arab League’s meeting in Cairo amid indications that the talks could be unraveling.
Palestinian negotiators are threatening to leave the talks if Israeli settlement building resumes in the West Bank after a moratorium expires Sept 30. The settlements are on territory captured by Israeli forces in the 1967 Middle East war and are deemed by the World Court to be illegal under international law, a finding disputed by Israel.
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said the peace talks were taking place in a “suspicious and worrying” environment and said the League was watching the situation in the Palestinian territories as the moratorium nears its ends.