Iran’s Khamenei: Palestinians will soon establish government in Tel Aviv

Hosting incoming head of Islamic Jihad in Tehran, supreme leader predicts ‘ultimate victory in the near future’

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks at a meeting in Tehran, Iran, August 13, 2018. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks at a meeting in Tehran, Iran, August 13, 2018. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khameini predicted on Monday that the Palestinians would soon be able to “establish a government in Tel Aviv.”

Hosting the head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Tehran, the Iranian supreme leader also hailed the Palestinian “resistance” against Israel, arguing that the most recent exchange of violence between Israel and terrorists groups in Gaza, which ended with a ceasefire, heralded Israel’s imminent demise.

“Palestine will strongly persist, and by the grace of God, the Palestinian nation’s ultimate victory will come true in the near future,” the ayatollah told Ziad al-Nakhala, who became PIJ’s leader in late September.

“As for the recent years, the victory of the Palestinian people has not meant being able to establish a government in Tel Aviv;— of course that will come true by God’s help,” Khameini added, according to a readout of the meeting posted on his official website.

“However, the main victory has been the fact that the Zionist regime — which Arab armies failed to defeat — was brought to its knees by the Palestinian people and the resistance; and by God’s will, you will achieve greater victories.”

Khameini chose to refer to Tel Aviv, when the seat of Israel’s government is Jerusalem. Many in the international community refuse to recognize the city as Israel’s capital, but expect it to become the shared capital of Israel and a future Palestinian state.

The Palestinian Authority has never expressed interest in establishing a government in Tel Aviv, which it acknowledges will remain part of the State of Israel. However, Iran and radical Palestinian groups, including PIJ and Hamas, refuse to recognize Israel in any borders, vowing to “liberate” all of historical Palestine.

Speaking to al-Nakhala, Khamenei hailed the “victories of Palestinian resistance groups” against Israel, citing the decreasing number of days of fighting compared to previous military confrontations as a harbinger of the Palestinians’ ultimate victory.

“During the two last wars against the Resistance groups, the Zionist regime begged for ceasefire after 22 days in one case and after 8 days in another instance; in the most recent conflict, the Zionist regime asked for ceasefire after only 48 hours,” he said. “This means the Zionist Regime has been brought to its knees.”

These important events were “divine blessings,” he went on, positing that the reason for the Palestinians’ “consecutive victories in recent years lies in resistance.”

He added: “Thus, in the future, as far as the resistance exists, the decline of the Zionist Regime will continue.”

On November 13, after 460 rockets and mortar shells were fired at southern Israel over the course of 25 hours, the Israeli government agreed to an informal Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with Hamas. It was the worst flareup since the 2014 war, which also ended with an ceasefire.

Israelis take cover in the southern Israeli town of Sderot on November 13, 2018, as rockets are fired from the Gaza Strip. (Jack Guez/AFP)

Al Nakhala, who is based in Syria and is said to be close to Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah, told Khameini that the “people of Gaza are standing up to the Zionist Regime and the so-called Deal of the Century plot,” according to the readout.

“Today, the abilities and power of the Islamic resistance in Palestine is stronger than ever, hence if war breaks out, Tel Aviv and all other cities and settlements of the Zionist regime will be within the reach of thousands of missiles of the Resistance,” he threatened.

Nakhala, who was born in Gaza in 1953, in September was named PIJ’s first new leader in 20 years.

The group is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union, and the US labeled Nakhala himself a “global terrorist” in 2014.

It opposes the peace agreements signed between Israel and the internationally recognized Palestinian leadership.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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