Palestinian officials deny reports Abbas invited to Iran
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Palestinian officials deny reports Abbas invited to Iran

Several aides close to PA president say no trip in offing after Palestinian reports he has yet to reject invitation

Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul on December 13, 2017. (Lefteris Pitarakis/AP)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul on December 13, 2017. (Lefteris Pitarakis/AP)

Palestinian Authority officials on Sunday denied reports in Palestinian media that President Mahmoud Abbas was invited to visit Iran in the coming days and had not yet refused the invitation.

The Maan News Agency cited anonymous sources who said Abbas “has not rejected” an invitation to the Islamic Republic he received while visiting Qatar on Sunday. Similar reports were carried by other Palestinian media outlets.

Abbas has not visited Iran since 2012, when he met with then Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the Non-Aligned Movement Summit.

Senior Abbas advisor Ahmed Majdalani, who is in charge of PA-Iranian relations, denied his boss had a received an invitation to Iran.

“This information is inaccurate, and I know that there are no developments in this regard,” Majdalani told the Palestinian daily al-Resalah.

Iranian President Ahmadinejad hugs Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Tehran on August 31. (photo credit: Image capture from Channel 2)
Former Iranian President Ahmadinejad hugs Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Tehran on August 31, 2012. ( Channel 2 screenshot)

Fatah spokesperson Osamah Qawasmeh also denied Abbas had plans to visit Tehran.

“There are no arrangements for the president to visit to Iran,” he told Dunia al-Watan.

Abbas has visited numerous Arab and Muslim capitals since US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on December 6, including Istanbul, Cairo, Amman and Doha.

Iran is a key supporter of the Hamas terror group that controls the Gaza Strip. According to Hamas, Iran is its most important military backer.

Hamas operative Saleh al-Arouri (2nd-R) meets with Iranian official Hossein Amir Abdollahian (R) and other Hamas operatives in Lebanon on August 1, 2017. (Official Hamas media)

A reconciliation process between Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah party is currently stalled due to questions over the future of the terror group’s military and issues related to funding.

Abbas is also close with Saudi Arabia. The Saudi kingdom considers Iran to be an arch-nemesis.

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