Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said that Israel is a major cause of the crises in the Middle East and suggested a referendum be held among all of the inhabitants of what it called “historic Palestinian territory” to decide its political future as part of measures by the international community to end the “crimes of the Zionist regime.”
The ministry issued a statement ahead of Nakba Day, when Palestinians commemorate the “catastrophe” that befell them with Israel’s creation in 1948.
“On May 14 1948 territories witnessed one of the most painful events in the history of Islam and the world, since then, the people of this land have not seen peace and comfort,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry statement said.
“On Nakba Day, an illegitimate entity called the Zionist regime, backed by the US was born and occupied Palestinian territory,” the statement continued. “It has continued with war, crime and occupation, and today has become a major factor behind the reason of all regional crises and real threats to international peace and security.”
Iran called on the international community, “and in particular the United Nations, to end the systematic occupation of Palestine” and bring about the creation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
Iran said the international community is expected to “take a decisive step forward after more than seven decades of occupation of the historic Palestinian territory to end the occupation and the subsequent crimes and atrocities of the Zionist regime, and to provide the necessary conditions for the return of the Palestinian refugees to their ancestral lands.”
The statement then suggested there should a referendum “with the participation of all the main inhabitants of the land, including Muslim, Christian and Jewish, to determine its political system.”
Palestinian factions in Gaza are mobilizing a mass march toward the Israeli border fence for Nakba Day, which is marked annually with often violent protests on May 15, the day after the date on which Israel declared independence in 1948.
Arab states responded to the 1948 declaration by attacking the fledgling Jewish state in what became Israel’s War of Independence. During the fighting, some 700,000 Palestinians left the country or were forced out.
This year, the tense Nakba Day period coincides with the Eurovision Song Contest, hosted in Israel.
Israel celebrates its Independence Day based on the Hebrew date of the original declaration, which this year was last Thursday.
The US embassy in Israel on Tuesday issued a security alert to American citizens, warning that Palestinian terrorists could carry out attacks in Israel and the West Bank over the coming days and stressed that “security incidents can occur well beyond Gaza and its periphery and at any time.”
Iran is one the main backers of terror groups in the Middle East, and in particular Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, both of which are sworn to Israel’s destruction.
Tensions between the US and Iran increased last week after Washington announced it was moving an aircraft carrier group and strategic bombers to the region in response to an unspecified Iranian threat.
Michael Bachner contributed to this report.