President Mahmoud Abbas’ visit to Iran will determine future relations between Iran and the PLO, following years of strained ties.
Abbas arrived in Tehran on Wednesday, his first visit to Iran as president, to attend a summit of the Non-Aligned Movement.
Relations between the PLO and Iran have been tense since late President Yasser Arafat supported Iraq during its war with Iran in the 1980s.
When Arafat signed the Oslo Accords with Israel in 1993, Iran froze all support to the PLO and accused it of treason.
Since then, Iran’s support to Hamas and Islamic Jihad have further estranged Tehran and the PLO.
Relations showed signs of improving in 2002 when Israel placed Arafat under siege at his Ramallah compound, but worsened again under Abbas, particularly when Iran supported Hamas after its takeover of the Gaza Strip following intense fighting with Abbas’ Palestinian Authority.
Abbas’ visit to Tehran was almost canceled following a dispute over an Iranian invitation to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to attend the summit.
PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki told Ma’an that Abbas had been assured his delegation would be the sole representatives for Palestine at the meeting.
Haniyeh pulled out of the visit on Sunday, citing a desire not to deepen divisions, despite earlier insisting he would attend.
The incident demonstrated the ongoing lack of trust between Abbas and Tehran.
Abbas’ spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said Wednesday that the president would address the 120 non-aligned nations and outline recent political developments.
The president will discuss the deadlock in the peace process with Israel and its refusal to stop building settlements and accept the two-state solution, Abu Rudeineh said in a statement.
“He will demand their political support especially that the summit includes 120 countries that support Palestinian rights and stand with the Palestinians in their right to an independent state,” he added.