Covert Palestinian Authority-Iranian get-together in Caracas

Authorative sources in the Venezuelan capital have told debkafile that Monday, April 27, Iran’s foreign minister Mostafa Mohammed Najjar and intelligence chiefs secretly got together with visiting Palestinian Authority officials, led by Palestinian foreign minister Riyadh al-Maliki. The matchmakers were Hugo Chavez and the Qatar ruler Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, following on the former’s visits to Tehran and Qatar in late March.
If true, this would signal a drastic policy turnabout by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas away from Cairo and over to the radical Tehran and Damascus. The Ramallah-Tehran opening, if confirmed, could help bury the hatchet between the warring Fatah and Hamas and pave the way for a Palestinian unity government governed by rejectionist ideology.
This would shut the door to future Palestinian negotiations with Israel’s Netanyahu administration.
Najjar’s visit to Caracas was formally presented as a move to strengthen “defense cooperation” between Iran and Venezuela.
“Iran pledges its full support to promote the Venezuelan military’s defense capabilities in the framework of mutual defensive agreements,” he said, Thursday, April 30, after calling on Chavez. The Iranian visitor also met Venezuelan vice president and acting defense minister Ramon Carrizalez to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on military cooperation which encompassed “training and mutual exchange of military experiences”.
The large Iranian and Palestinian Authority delegations met under cover of celebrations marking Venezuela’s decision to sever its diplomatic ties with Israel and open a Palestinian embassy in Caracas instead.
Chavez is quoted as maintaining during his visits to Tehran and Doha that if US president Barack Obama is willing to talk to him, with Cuba and with Iran, there was no reason why Mahmoud Abbas should not engage Tehran directly. This would help overcome his Fatah’s quarrel with Hamas, which Iran is actively supporting with arms, cash and military training.
Abbas is said to have welcomed the proposal when it was put to him by Sheikh Khalifa.
Caracas sources say the Iranian-Palestinian meeting lasted about four hours and ended with a decision to continue the encounters in Moscow, Doha and Ankara, where Iran and the Palestinians both maintain large diplomatic legations.

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