Iran leaders mock Trump peace plan as thousands rally on anti-Israel Quds Day
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Iran leaders mock Trump peace plan as thousands rally on anti-Israel Quds Day

Rouhani, Zarif join annual Tehran protests; demonstrators burn effigies of US president, Netanyahu; rallies in Iraq and Lebanon too

Iranians burn an effigy of US President Donald Trump during a parade marking al-Quds (Jerusalem) International Day in Tehran on May 31, 2019. (AFP)
Iranians burn an effigy of US President Donald Trump during a parade marking al-Quds (Jerusalem) International Day in Tehran on May 31, 2019. (AFP)

Thousands of Iranians rallied Friday to mark Quds, or Jerusalem Day, which will see demonstrations across the Middle East against Israel as the Trump administration tries to offer an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

The annual protests, also being held in Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere, come on the last Friday of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.

As rallies began across the Iranian capital, demonstrators set fire to American and Israeli flags, and also burned effigies of President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The rallies will all march to Tehran University, where the ceremony is to end at Friday noontime prayers. Similar rallies took place in 950 cities and towns across the country.

Many high-ranking Iranian officials attended the rally in Tehran, including President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Iranians burn an Israeli flag during a parade marking al-Quds (Jerusalem) International Day in Tehran on May 31, 2019. (AFP)

Both men derided the Trump administration’s so-called “Deal of the Century” peace plan, saying it would end in failure.

On Wednesday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had said that the US and its allies will fail to impose the deal on Palestinians. In 2015, Khamenei predicted that Israel would not exist in 25 years.

Iran has marked Quds Day since the start of its 1979 Islamic Revolution by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Al-Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem, and Iran — which arms terror groups Hezbollah and Hamas, both of which are sworn to Israel’s destruction — says the day is an occasion to express support for the Palestinians.

This year’s protests come as the White House is promoting the June 25-26 meeting in the Gulf state of Bahrain as the first phase of its long-awaited Mideast peace plan. That plan, whose specifics have yet to be released, includes large-scale investment and infrastructure work in the Palestinian territories, much of it funded by wealthy Arab countries.

Palestinian leaders say they won’t attend the summit. American officials say the Bahrain conference will not include the core political issues of the conflict: borders of a Palestinian state, the status of Jerusalem, the fate of Palestinian refugees or Israeli security demands.

Ahead of Quds Day, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar on Thursday thanked Iran for providing his terror group the rockets it used to strike deep into Israel and warned the Jewish state that Tel Aviv would be struck again in response to any offensive against the Gaza Strip.

Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, speaks during a press conference for Quds (Jerusalem) Day in Gaza City on 30 May 2019. (Mohammed Abed/AFP)

“Iran provided us with rockets, and we surprised the world when our resistance targeted Beersheba,” Sinwar said in a live TV address, referring to the weekend of violence at the beginning of the month, during which Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired nearly 700 rockets at Israel.

“Had it not been for Iran, the resistance in Palestine would not have possessed its current capabilities,” Sinwar said.

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