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Abbas to Iran: Stop Interfering

By VOA News
04 March 2009

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' harsh criticism of what he calls Iranian interference in Palestinian affairs comes as Tehran hosts a summit on Palestinian issues.

Mr. Abbas said in the West Bank Wednesday that Iran seeks to deepen the rift between Palestinians, an apparent reference to Tehran's support of the rival government of Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.

In Tehran, Iranian officials opened a two-day conference on what they call Israeli war crimes committed during Israel's January offensive against Hamas in Gaza, in which an estimated 1,300 people were killed.

Iranian state television reported Wednesday that Interpol was considering a request from Tehran to arrest 15 senior Israeli officials. On Monday, Interpol took what it called the unusual step of denying that Iran had made such a request, noting that its charter strictly prohibits it from taking any action of a "political, military, religious or racial character."

Mr. Abbas' criticism of Iran follows a call by Saudia Arabia's foreign minister to his fellow Arab diplomats to deal with what he termed "the Iranian challenge."

At a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo Tuesday, Prince Saud al-Faisal said that resolving problems among Arabs depends on a joint position regarding Iran's stance on Gulf security and its nuclear program.

At the Tehran conference Wednesday, Iran's supreme leader took aim at U.S. President Barack Obama, accusing him of following the same mistaken path as George W. Bush in supporting Israel.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the Jewish state a "cancerous tumor" and said Mr. Obama's support for it was unconditional.

Mr. Khamenei also said Palestinians can only save their territory through resisting Israel, rather than trying to negotiate.

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