Last updated: 29 August, 2012

Palestinian president heads for Iran NAM summit

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas left on Wednesday for a Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran, where he is expected to seek support for a new Palestinian attempt to upgrade their UN status, his spokesman said.

“The decision of the NAM summit will have an effect on the Palestinian UN bid to seek non-member state status for Palestine,” Nabil Abu Rudeina told AFP.

Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki has said that the new bid will be put to the United Nations on September 27, a year after Abbas tried to obtain full member status in a bold move which was never put to a UN Security Council vote following threats of a US veto.

“The president will meet with other delegations attending the summit and will deliver a speech about the stalled peace process and the importance of supporting the Palestinian people’s rights, especially in east Jerusalem,” he added.

Abbas aide Nimr Hamad told Voice of Palestine radio that Abbas was going to the Islamic republic despite US disapproval.

“Abbas was under a lot of American pressure not to attend the NAM summit, but he insisted on going,” Hamad said.

The trip follows a domestic spat in which Abbas’s Hamas rival Ismail Haniya said he had also been invited and Abbas in turn threatened to boycott the gathering.

The Islamist Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip as a rival to Abbas’s West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, said last week that Haniya, its premier, had accepted an invitation to the summit from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In response, Malki said the president would boycott the summit if Haniya was there.

Iran then denied inviting Haniya and he said he would stay at home in the interests of Palestinian solidarity.

Haniya’s office, however, did not hide its anger, blaming Abbas’s secular Fatah movement for the failure so far of attempts to reconcile the rival groups.

“The Fatah leaders’ position on the invitation of PM Haniya to the NAM summit does not indicate any desire to achieve reconciliation but instead it entrenches division,” it said in a statement.

“The Ramallah government itself is a violation of (Palestinian) legitimacy and should not claim to represent our people.”