Khamenei: Israel will soon perish, Palestinians should vote on ‘right of return’
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Khamenei: Israel will soon perish, Palestinians should vote on ‘right of return’

Iran’s supreme leader says the main problem with the ‘Zionist regime’ is its ‘fundamental illegitimacy’

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, right, leading the Eid al-Fitr prayers at the Imam Khomeini grand mosque in the capital Tehran on June 15, 2018. (Iranian Supreme Leader's Website/AFP)
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, right, leading the Eid al-Fitr prayers at the Imam Khomeini grand mosque in the capital Tehran on June 15, 2018. (Iranian Supreme Leader's Website/AFP)

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday dismissed US efforts to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians, vowed the Jewish state will soon “perish,” and called for a Palestinian referendum on the status of its refugees to hasten the “elimination of the Zionist regime.”

“The Zionist regime will not last. All historical experiences imply that with absolute certainty. Undoubtedly the Zionist regime will perish in the not-so-far future,” Iran’s supreme leader said on his English-language Twitter account.

He was calling for a referendum on the so-called “right of return” of Palestinian refugees, a maneuver he said would spell the end of the Jewish state.

“Like all free countries, people of Palestine — real Palestinians — should be polled to determine the political system of Palestine; that governing body will decide on future of immigrants in Palestine. There’s no other solution and this leads to elimination of the Zionist regime,” said Khamenei.

Earlier this month, Khamenei said the conflict should be resolved through a popular referendum among those who trace their roots back to before the creation of Israel, including Muslims, Jews and Christians.

That would seem to include the Palestinians as well as the small community of Jews who lived in the Holy Land before the mass immigration of Jews in the 20th century and the creation of Israel in 1948. Khamenei did not address the fate of the vast majority of Jewish Israelis, who claim historical and biblical roots to the land but whose immediate ancestors arrived in the last century.

He spoke after weeks of the so-called “Great March of Return” protests on the Gaza border, where Palestinians have called for a return to their pre-1948 homes in Israel. Israel has struggled to contain the often violent protests and accuses the Hamas terrorist group of using the demonstrations as a front to launch attacks on Israel.

Israel has long insisted that the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees, as defined by the Palestinians, is a nonstarter in peace negotiations. The UN categorizes as refugees not just those Palestinians who were displaced or expelled from their homes in 1947 and 1948, but also all of their descendants. As a consequence, accepting the “right of return” would mean millions of Palestinians being allowed to enter Israel, ending Israel’s majority Jewish status.

Dismissing increasingly warm ties between Israel and Gulf states and the Trump administration’s relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem and anticipated peace proposal, Khamenei insisted the main issue was the “fundamental illegitimacy” of Israel.

The “Zionist regime” will not have its problems solved if “a few spineless states in region established ties with it. It’s about nations; it won’t be solved by White House’s efforts, moving its embassy. It’s about the regime’s fundamental illegitimacy,” he said.

In an address to the nation earlier on Friday, Khamenei praised Iranian citizens for showing up at massive anti-Israel rallies last week in support of the Palestinian people to mark Al-Quds, or Jerusalem Day.

“This year and despite hot weather, people participated in Quds Day rallies more remarkable than previous years,” said Khamenei in a speech on Eid al-Fitr, the festival marking the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

President Hassan Rouhani also sent a message to the nation, saying, “I believe the land of Palestine will be returned to owners of the land with the help of god.”

Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency claimed that “millions of Iranians from all walks of life” took part in the protests in “nearly 900 Iranian cities” last Friday.

President Hassan Rouhani attends a meeting with officials and industrialists, at a petroleum conference in Tehran, Iran, May 8, 2018. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

There was no independent verification of these numbers.

Chanting “Death to Israel,” demonstrators protested Israel’s control of Jerusalem, the city where Muslims believe Islam’s Prophet Muhammad began his journey to heaven. Palestinians want East Jerusalem for their future capital. Demonstrators also chanted anti-American slogans to condemn the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem on May 14.

Iran has marked Al-Quds Day since the start of its 1979 Islamic Revolution. Al-Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem, and Iran says the day is an occasion to express support for the Palestinians.

Iran-allied Shiite paramilitary fighters step on an Israeli flag drawn on the pavement during a rally to mark “Quds Day” (Jerusalem Day) first initiated by Iran in 1979 to fall on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan, in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on June 8, 2018. (AFP Photo/Ahmad al-Rubaye)

The day was also the last Friday of Ramadan and comes just three days after the Palestinians’ Naksa Day on June 5, which commemorates the Arab loss in the 1967 Six Day War.

Iran does not recognize Israel and supports anti-Israel terror groups such as Hamas, which rules Gaza, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

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