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In Rare Move Iran's Zarif Calls Palestinian Leader Abbas

In a rare phone talk Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif have discussed Trump's Middle East peace plan. FILE PHOTO

In a rare phone call the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif on Tuesday evening discussed Donald Trump's Middle East peace plan dubbed "Deal of the Century" with the President of Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas.

According to a statement published on the website of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, the Palestinian leader and Iranian Foreign Minister "rejected the American-Zionist deal and underlined the necessity for unity and solidarity of the Muslim world" in support of Palestinians.

The Palestinian news agency WAFA also reported that Abbas briefed Zarif of political action the State of Palestine will take "to create an international consensus to foil the deal".

Mahmoud Abbas also told Zarif that a delegation will be sent to the Gaza Strip soon to meet with the Palestinian factions in Gaza to "achieve national unity in Palestine".

The Tuesday phone call was a rare high-level diplomatic contact between Iranian and Palestinian authorities. Relations between Iran and the Palestinian National Authority have been sour for years. The Palestinian National Authority officials in 2016 criticized Iran for opposing their negotiations with Israel as well as funding and supporting HAMAS which they said tried to delegitimize the Palestinian authority.

In two separate phone calls on February 2, Iran's new Qods (Quds) Force Commander Esmail Qaani, told Islamic Jihad Leader Ziad Nakhale and Hamas Leader Ismail Haniyeh that Iran is prepared to stand alongside Palestinians "and particularly resistance forces" to confront the Trump peace plan.

President Trump's peace plan which he has named "Deal of the Century" was unveiled on January 28. The plan which envisages an eventual two-state solution for Israel and Palestinians has been criticized as offering much less to Palestinians than previous ideas of a peace plan.

Criticism has also been voiced for the United States not making a strong attempt to gain Palestinian agreement for the plan.

Senior Iranian officials have unanimously condemned Trump’s “The Deal of the Century”. In a tweet on January 29, President Hassan Rouhani called it “the Most Despicable Plan of the Century” and Zarif dubbed it "Highway to Hell".