The chairman of Iran’s Assembly of Experts has said that President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital will mark the demise of Israel, according to the Iranian media.  “That measure will cause the destruction of such a criminal regime (Israel),” said Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, who is also the secretary of the country’s powerful Guardian Council. Separately, Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami echoed a similar remark, stressing that the decision will accelerate Israel’s demise.

This week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani called leaders of Palestinian “resistance groups” to pledge Iran’s “all-out support” for them in their armed struggle against Israel, Sepah News, the official outlet of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.) reported. According to the read-out of the phone conversations with the leadership of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Major General Qassem Soleimani also emphasized that other groups within the “resistance axis in the region” are also ready to defend the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

Comment: Iranian leaders are apparently trying to exploit Trump’s last week announcement on Jerusalem for their political ends in the region. One the one hand, Tehran is portraying itself as the “real” defender of Sunni Palestinians in an effort to change the regional perception that it is promoting a sectarian agenda by aiding only Shiite armed groups in the Middle East. Tehran also hopes that Washington’s decision to unilaterally declare Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would help Iran’s efforts, as one analyst wrote in I.R.G.C.-affiliated Tasnim News Agency, to further strengthen the “resistance front” in the region against the United States and Israel.

Many Iranian leaders also claim that Trump’s decision justified their views that the only way to achieve a Palestinian state is through armed “resistance” rather than diplomacy. Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, an aide to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, on Friday called for an uprising against Israel.