Iran’s Khamenei says US Middle East plan ‘will die before Trump’

Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei swipes at Arab leaders who showed support for Trump’s plan for Israel-Palestine.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
'This plan will certainly not work and it will die before Trump,' Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said of Trump's Middle East plan [File: Getty Images]

Iran‘s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said Donald Trump‘s controversial plan for Israel-Palestine would die before the US president does.

“This plan will certainly not work and it will die before Trump,” Khamenei said in his speech that aired on state television. “The Americans negotiated with the Zionists on something that doesn’t belong to them.”

Trump announced the long-awaited Middle East plan last month, although the proposal was made without the input of Palestinians, who broke off ties with the Trump administration after it announced its recognition of Jerusalem as the “undivided capital” of Israel in 2018.

The US plan, which is seen by analysts as extremely supportive of Israel and has been rejected by the Palestinians, the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, envisions the Israeli annexation of large swaths of the occupied West Bank including illegal settlements and the Jordan Valley, giving Israel a permanent eastern border along the Jordan River.

The Palestinians would have parts of the West Bank and Gaza for their state and a new capital in Abu Dis, a suburb just outside Jerusalem, but the Palestinians want both occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank to be part of a future state.

Trump’s proposal sidelined Palestinians and is in violation of UNSC Resolution 242 that called on Israel to withdraw its forces from territories it had occupied in the June 1967 War, as well as the return of refugees.

Khamenei also said that Iran would support Palestinian armed groups as much as it can and urged Palestinians to confront Trump’s plan.

“We believe that Palestinian armed organisations will stand and continue resistance and the Islamic Republic sees supporting Palestinian groups as its duty,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech, the text of which appeared on his website.

“So it will support them however it can and as much as it can and this support is the desire of the Islamic system and the Iranian nation,” he said. 

‘Worthless and dishonourable’

Tensions have spiked between Iran and the United States after senior Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani was killed in a US air strike in Baghdad on January 3, prompting the Islamic Republic to retaliate with a missile attack against a base housing US troops in Iraq days later.

Khamenei also jabbed at Arab leaders who have supported the Trump plan.

“The welcoming and clapping from a few traitorous Arab leaders who are worthless and dishonourable among their own people has no importance,” he said.

Among those in attendance at the unveiling last month were ambassadors from Bahrain, the UAE and Oman.

Muscat, which has traditionally conducted a neutral foreign policy, in a surprise move welcomed  Netanyahu in 2018 – the first visit to Oman by an Israeli leader in over two decades.

Some Gulf countries have moved closer to Israel in recent years as they see Iran as a bigger regional threat.

Call to vote

Separately, Khamenei called for a high turnout in parliamentary elections on February 21, broadly seen as a gauge of support for the authorities after the dramatic rise in tensions with the US last month.

“It’s possible that someone doesn’t like me but if they like Iran they must come to the ballot box,” Khamenei said, according to his official website, noting that the elections could help solve Iran’s international problems.

Last week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani lashed out at hardliners over the mass disqualification of candidates for the election.

Iran’s economy has been battered after Trump pulled out of a multilateral nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic in 2018 and reimposed sanctions in a bid to bring Iran to the negotiating table for curbs on its ballistic missile program and to cut its support for regional proxies.

Washington’s attempt to pressure Iran to negotiate through sanctions will not work, Rouhani said in a speech broadcast live on state television on Wednesday.

“They thought we would request negotiations from America. Negotiations by their definition, not our definition,” Rouhani said. “They want us to surrender through cruel, unequal and undignified negotiations. This is impossible for the Iranian people.”

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies