Palestinian Authority leaders slammed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Saturday, accusing him of seizing power illegitimately and oppressing the Iranian people. Their condemnation followed Ahmadinejad's criticism of the PA over negotiations with Israel.
PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh told the Wafa news agency, “He who does not represent the Iranian people, who forged elections and who suppresses the Iranian people and stole authority, is not entitled to talk about Palestine, or the president of Palestine.”
Countering claims that Abbas is not authorized to negotiate with Israel, Rudeineh said, “President Mahmoud Abbas came to power through free, democratic, authentic elections.” He did not address claims that Abbas is no longer a legitimate leader due to the fact that he has postponed PA elections, which were originally scheduled to be held several months ago.
Ahmadinejad said Friday that talks between Israel and the PA will fail. “The fate of Palestine will be determined on the ground in Palestine. Not in Washington... These talks are death, there is no reason to hold talks,” he told a large crowd at Tehran University.
Regarding the PA, he said, “Who gave them the right to sell a piece of Palestinian land? The people of Palestine and the people of the region will not allow them to sell even an inch of Palestinian land to the enemy.”
Iran and the PA usually appear supportive of one another. However, there has been tension between Iran and the Fatah-led PA based in Ramallah since 2007, when Fatah battled with former coalition partner Hamas in a mini-war that led to Hamas seizing control of Gaza and forming a breakaway PA. Iran backs Hamas, and provides the group with both training and weapons.