Iran and the Palestinians
- After the 1979 revolution, Iran ended its alliance with Israel and started supporting the Palestinians, symbolized by turning over the Israeli embassy in Tehran to the Palestine Liberation Organization.
- As part of its campaign to export the revolution, the theocracy also aided emerging Palestinian Islamic groups, notably Islamic Jihad and Hamas. Both sent representatives to Tehran.
- Iran generally opposed the U.S.-backed Middle East peace process. During the 1997-2005 reform era, however, President Mohammad Khatami indicated that Tehran might accept any decision embraced by the Palestinian majority. But that sentiment was short-lived.
- Tehran has trained many Palestinian militants and provided a significant proportion of the weaponry used against Israel. For Shiite Iran, the Palestinian groups are among its most important Sunni allies.
- The Syrian civil war has strained Iran's relationship with Palestinian groups, particularly Hamas. Iran backs President Bashar al Assad, an Alawite, and Hamas reportedly supports Sunni rebels seeking to overthrow him.
- When it had substantial financial and military support from Iran, Hamas could refuse to work with Fatah and other parties to form a single Palestinian government in the West Bank and Gaza. The split between the two halves of the Palestinian Authority seriously complicates peace efforts since only two of the three parties to the conflict negotiated.
- The fallout between Iran and Hamas is unlikely to be resolved as long as they back different sides in the Syria conflict. Further strain in the relationship may lead Hamas to move closer to its Gulf backers, and possibly even motivate Iran to consider rapprochement with the PLO.
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