Iran’s top authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has issued yet another deadly threat against the State of Israel. Calling for the “complete liberation of Palestine,” the Iranian leader again referred to Israel as a “tumor” that has no right to exist. “This cancerous tumor, since its start, has grown incrementally and its treatment must be incremental too,” Khamenei said.
Comment: Khamenei’s remarks were delivered as part of the 6th “International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Intifada (Uprising).” The event will for sure be hailed in Tehran in coming days as a major Iranian success in mobilizing public opinion in the Islamic World against the Jewish state. The fact that Tehran was also able to secure the attendance of a delegation from the militant and Sunni Hamas organization will surely also be touted as an accomplishment since Tehran always wants to showcase its pan-Islamist credentials at the time where it is widely seen as a sectarian (Shiite) actor. The Iranian regime has long utilized the Palestinian issue as a way of appealing to the Arab masses while seeking to undermine Arab ruling elites that have often sought to find a political solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
From Khamenei’s speech on February 21, it is clear that Tehran has no viable solution to this decade-long conflict other than adding fuel to the fire. On the one hand, Khamenei continued to express the discredited line of arguing that the creation of Israel was somehow a Western conspiracy to keep the Middle East unstable for generations. At the same time, Khamenei asks for the Palestinians to shun any political negotiations or compromises with the Israelis. And finally, he called for “Islamic unity” against Israel. The latter point is arguably Iran’s only real intention here, which is to deflect from Tehran’s controversial policies in the region by making the Palestinian issue the focus.