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Khamenei pushes to arm Palestinians in Judea and Samaria

Every attack in Gaza or Judea and Samaria reinforces Iran's determination to implement the Supreme Leader’s call to arm Palestinian terror factions.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei hosts Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Ziyad al-Nakhalah in Tehran, June 14, 2023. Source: Twitter.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei hosts Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Ziyad al-Nakhalah in Tehran, June 14, 2023. Source: Twitter.
Michael Segall
Michael Segall
IDF Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael (Mickey) Segall, an expert on strategic issues with a focus on Iran, terrorism, and the Middle East, is a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and at Acumen Risk Advisors.

During a June 14 meeting between Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, and Ziyad al-Nakhalah, secretary-general of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Khamenei said that the Palestinian terrorist groups have “accurately identified the way forward.”

“The current situation of the Zionist regime is vastly different compared to 70 years ago. … The Zionist enemy is now in a passive and reactive position,” he said.

The meeting won a front-page headline in Kayhan, Khamenei’s mouthpiece.

Khamenei emphasized the importance of taking necessary risks to achieve meaningful goals and pointed out the growing strength and credibility of Palestinian terrorist groups, including PIJ. He cited the “recent defeat of the Zionist regime in the five-day war” (referring to Israel’s “Operation Shield and Arrow”) as evidence.

He commended PIJ for its performance and said, “The Zionist leaders are right to be concerned that they may not see the regime’s 80th anniversary.”

The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution also highlighted the pivotal role of PIJ and other Palestinian “resistance” groups in confronting the Zionist regime.

“The growing power of the resistance groups in the West Bank is the key that can bring the Zionist enemy to its knees, and it is crucial that we continue along this path,” he said.

Khamenei’s frequent meetings with the PIJ leadership highlight the organization’s crucial role and perceived value in countering Israel. As a protégé of Iran, PIJ is distinct from Hamas, which maintains a relatively independent operational approach.

Al-Nakhalah, in turn, hailed Iran’s unwavering support for Palestinians, saying that “no other country in the world takes such a stance so explicitly.” PIJ’s secretary-general pointed to a meeting in Tehran between senior members of Hamas, PIJ and the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as “a testament to Tehran’s support for the Palestinian resistance factions” that also “highlights strong ties between PIJ, Hamas and the Islamic Republic.”

Al-Nakhalah also met on June 17 with Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, the Majlis Speaker. Qalibaf emphasized the significance of Palestine as the forefront of the “Resistance Front” and highlighted the unity among various groups and movements fighting against Israel. He also mentioned the “internal insecurity, economic problems and weakening of the Zionist regime.”

Referring to the recent war in Gaza, al-Nakhalah hailed the current violence in Judea and Samaria (also known as the West Bank) and acknowledged Iran’s prominent role in assisting “the resistance in Palestine.”

Al-Nakhalah also met with Ali Akbar Ahmadian, the representative of the Supreme Leader and the newly appointed Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC). Ahmadian also highlighted the “declining status of the Zionist regime and the rising power of the Resistance Front.” The SNSC secretary stated that supporting the PIJ is a fundamental Iranian policy and “that the expansion of resistance cells throughout Palestine would lead to the collapse of the Zionist regime.”

Ahmadian highlighted the “significance of the West Bank joining the resistance movement, stating that it has opened a new field against the Zionist regime.”

Ahmadian also emphasized that “normalizing relations with the regime occupying Jerusalem would be detrimental to the security and national interests of the region.”

He argued that such normalization threatens regional security and undermines social capital in the Arab and Islamic world, ultimately jeopardizing national security.

Hamas leaders join the Iranian party

Hamas politburo leader Ismail Haniyeh arrived in Tehran on June 19 at the head of a Hamas delegation, where he met with Khamenei and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

Khamenei reiterated the importance of the West Bank, saying that “Gaza is the center of resistance, while the point that will bring the enemy to its knees is the West Bank.”

Raisi stated that “it is useless to negotiate with this [Zionist] regime and the only possible way to face it is resistance.” He reiterated that any attempt to normalize relations with Israel is a betrayal of the Palestinian cause: “The supporters of the Zionist regime who seek to normalize relations of some Islamic countries with the Zionist regime should know that this will not create security for the regime and these countries should also know that this will only generate hatred for them from their own people and Muslim nations.”

Haniyeh expressed gratitude for Iran’s continuous support “for the liberation of Quds” (Jerusalem) and stated, “Today, the Resistance Front, not only in Gaza but also in the West Bank, the occupied territories of 1948, and even among Palestinians and supporters of Palestine outside this land, is expanding and strengthening.”

In Haniyeh’s meeting with SNSC’s secretary, Ahmadian emphasized “resistance,” a euphemism for terrorism, as the most effective strategy “to put an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, which has persisted for over seven decades.”

Al-Nakhalah mentioned that additional officials from various Palestinian factions were due in Iran in the coming days to “assess the current situation in occupied Palestine and establish a unified stance in their efforts to bring an end to the Israeli occupation.”

Al-Nakhalah emphasized that these meetings underscore the “unity of the resistance alliance against the Israeli regime” that will yield positive outcomes for the region.

Khamenei declared in 2014, “I believe the West Bank should be armed just like Gaza,” and action must be taken in this direction. On multiple occasions since 2014, senior IRGC commanders have made efforts to implement this.

In August 2022, following the Israel Defense Forces’ “Operation Breaking Dawn” against PIJ in Gaza, a meeting occurred between IRGC commander Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami and al-Nakhalah. Reports from Gaza indicate that the meeting resulted in an agreement to enhance PIJ’s activities in the northern West Bank.

During an interview published on Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s website, Salami declared that Iran would provide arms to the resistance forces in the West Bank, similar to its support for Gaza-based terror groups. He confirmed that the process had already commenced.

“The West Bank becomes a significant factor in the equation … Khamenei has emphasized the importance of arming the West Bank,” he said. He ridiculed Israel’s inability to halt the influx of weapons: “Acquiring weapons today has become more accessible compared to the past. The development, production and transportation of weapons have become increasingly streamlined and accessible, catching the Israelis off guard in most cases.”

The high-level meetings align with a surge of terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria, including some perpetrated by PIJ and Hamas. These attacks have served as a source of encouragement for Iran as it seeks to establish Judea and Samaria as an additional battleground in its ongoing conflict with Israel.

Each round of escalation in Gaza or Judea and Samaria reinforces the determination to fulfill the Supreme Leader’s directive. For Iran, Judea and Samaria represents another significant pillar in its overall strategy to encircle Israel. Tehran aims to establish deterrence against Israel, both ideologically and in terms of national security, by leading the fight against Israel and Zionism, while safeguarding its nuclear program, which, it believes, ensures the regime’s survival.

In this context, Iran urges Muslim countries, particularly those that have normalized relations with Israel or are in the process of doing so, to halt the normalization process and instead join humanitarian support efforts for the Palestinians.

In any case, Iran’s IRGC Quds Force commanders are working to implement the Supreme Leader’s orders to arm terror groups in the West Bank.

Originally published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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