Speaking in an interview* with Ayatollah Khamenei’s official website, Mohammad Javad Zarif stressed that Donald Trump’s so-called peace plan can also thwart Zionists’ policies.
The top diplomat said a referendum should be held among Palestinians as emphasized by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei at different conferences and events.
Zarif said Iran had the referendum initiative registered at the United Nations as an official proposal.
Recently, added the foreign minister, the referendum initiative was widely promoted as the US-Israeli “Deal of the Century” plan was introduced, so that the world will come to understand that the only way to settle the Palestinian issue is to respect Palestinians’ rights.
On January 28, Trump unveiled his so-called deal of the century, negotiated with Israel but without the Palestinians.
Palestinian leaders, who severed all ties with Washington in late 2017 after Trump controversially recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of the Israeli regime, immediately rejected the plan, with President Mahmoud Abbas saying it “belongs to the dustbin of history.”
Palestinian leaders say the deal is a colonial plan to unilaterally control historic Palestine in its entirety and remove Palestinians from their homeland, adding that it heavily favours Israel and would deny them a viable independent state.
* What follows is the full text of the interview with Foreign Minister Zarif:
Interviewer: In your opinion, what is the role of the US and the Zionists in the formation of the “Deal of the Century” and what do they pursue with that plan?
FM Zarif: Unfortunately, in the course of the past years – particularly in recent years – not only has the Arab world adopted a passive outlook towards the Zionist regime and towards the U.S., but they have also allied themselves with the Zionists against the Islamic country of Palestine. This course of action has pushed them into a delicate situation. That is why the Americans have reached the conclusion that they can unveil their plan. However, until a few years ago, the Americans were not in the same position; they did not even think of turning the issue of Palestine into a real estate business and sacrificing all the desires, dreams and essential rights of the people of Palestine for the sake of their own construction projects.
On the basis of what Trump and Kushner think and say, they are not at all concerned about anyone’s rights and they think of this plan as a [real estate] project. They have come to the conclusion that the Arab world is so humiliated that they can introduce such a despicable plan as the rights of the people of Palestine.
As a matter of fact, this plan would turn Palestine into something like the Bantustans of the apartheid era. In other words, there would be designated regions which would come out in the centre of occupied Palestine in order to control its inhabitants. In that deal, everything is in the control of the Zionist regime as the clauses specified in the ‘Deal of the Century’ are beyond the ones suggested in Oslo and Madrid accords. In its current shape, the plan would metamorphose Palestine into small segments situated among the lands encircled by Zionist territories. It would even grant to the Zionists all the lands disputed since 1967.
Trump’s wish to annex Syria’s Golan Heights and Baytul-Moqaddas, Muslims’ capital, to the Zionist regime – these are regions which did not belong to the Zionists from the beginning – only stems from the passivity and degradation of the Arabs in the face of the Americans and the Zionists. The Arab world is still after buying a security from the U.S. and the Zionist regime. Instead of relying on themselves, their people and their Muslim neighbours, they continue to persist in their desire to buy security from the U.S. As for the Americans, of course they welcome it due to the fact that for instance, they sell weapons to Saudi Arabia worth 67 billion dollars, but they also simultaneously trade its dignity in exchange for selling weapons to the country.
Interviewer: Why do you think some Arab heads of states reacted disapprovingly to the ‘Deal of the Century’ and why do they think that it would have reverse effect for the plotters?
FM Zarif: The stance adopted by some of the heads of Arab countries – who have turned into the leaders of the Arab world today due to the problems that big Arab countries are faced with – is different from that of the Arab people, but the important thing that has happened is that the dependent Arab regimes have endeavored in recent years to introduce the Islamic Republic as a danger – a false one – to their people.
Nonetheless, the recent incident showed that the danger that the Arab world is faced with is in fact embodied in the current masters of Arab countries who violate, at once, all the dreams and rights of the Palestinians while those [Arab] leaders do not even dare confront them. Instead of adopting a position in support of Palestine, they even go as far as thanking Mr. Trump. In fact, this is a message to the Arab world that the question of Palestine cannot be resolved with such policies, that they should turn their back on them and that they should recognize the danger of Zionism which is a threat to the world of Islam and also the danger of those individuals who pursue the humiliating policy of cooperating and collaborating with the Zionist regime.
In my opinion, this is an opportunity for the world of Islam to realize that the solution for the issue of Palestine turns around the two pivots of democracy and resistance. The goal of the Resistance is clear and the Palestinians are resisting as well, but today all Palestinians should express their unanimous opposition to the “Deal of the Century.” The unity inside Palestine on the basis of resistance can turn out to be a very auspicious phenomenon for foiling Zionist policies.
Democracy is a very important player as well. Those whose cry of democracy has deafened the world and who refer to the Zionist regime as the only democracy in the region should be prepared to embrace the real democracy. What does real democracy mean? It means that all those who live in Palestine, who are the real owners of Palestine, but who have been displaced around the world should be able to determine and make decisions for their own future. Why are the advocates of democracy intimidated by this proposal?
[Or by] The plan that the Supreme Leader of the Revolution has introduced in recent years as the Islamic Republic’s proposal for the question of Palestine—which is naturally a logical one? When a similar plan was implemented in South Africa and when apartheid was eliminated as a result of it, did it lead to the massacre of the white people? Why do they wish to falsely promote the notion that this plan will lead to the massacre of the Jews? Hazrat-e Aqa [The Supreme Leader] has reiterated many times that we have nothing against the Jewish people and that the Jews who have been living in Palestine have the right to reside there, but that they cannot determine the fate of others. It is each and every one of the Palestinians who should determine their own fate.
In South Africa, all Africans – including the blacks, the whites and the people of colour – were once divided into different groups and they were deprived of the human right to live together, but they decided to put an end to such a system. Almost 30 years have passed from [the days of] that system, but we have not been witness to any war or massacre in South Africa.
As for Palestine, instead of giving in to the humiliation and the increasing and infinite pressures exerted by the U.S. and the Zionist regime, there are two solutions that should be pursued simultaneously, not separately from one another. One is resistance and another is democracy and popular vote. If they put these two solutions in practice, the question of Palestine will be resolved. Last year, we registered with the United Nations the Supreme Leader’s proposal in the United Nations as an officially recognized proposal, so that the world would become familiar with it, as is already familiar with it to some extent.
When the “deal of the century” was just about to be unveiled, we promoted the plan proposed by the Supreme Leader of the Revolution so that the world would know that the only solution for Palestine is not merely to violate the rights of the Palestinians and to pursue a settlement project, that rather the only solution is to assert the rights of the Palestinians.
Interviewer: How can the plan put forward by the Islamic Republic become closer to achieving results?
FM Zarif: Notice that the final decision rests with the people of Palestine. It is they who should make this decision. In our opinion, one of the mistakes made in the past 30 years was that they[Some Palestinian organizations] thought they would be able to revive the rights of the Palestinians through cooperating with the occupiers. However, today all Palestinian parties have realized that this is not the case. Therefore, they should begin to think about an alternative for the Oslo accord and subsequently, the ‘Deal of the Century’ which is the continuation of the U.S.’s interventionist policies regarding the question of occupied Palestine. Therefore, the Palestinians should accept that this is not just another intervention and that the U.S. is one side of the problem and the dispute. Therefore, they should work on a plan which can provide them with a solution.
We have always stressed that it is the Palestinians who have the right to choose and the Islamic Republic will accept whichever path the people of Palestine opt for. In other words, we accept that the Palestinians should make the final decision and their final decision should be respected by everyone.
Interviewer: A few years ago, in his insightful prediction, the Leader of the Revolution announced that the Zionist regime will not see 25 years from now. [i.e. it will be destroyed]. How can the ‘Deal of the Century’ accelerate the elimination of the Zionist regime?
Zarif: The time when the Palestinians come to believe that giving in to the U.S. interventionism is not the path to get them to their goal, and when they realize that the only path towards that is to utilize their power of resistance and seeking democracy [then that will happen]. The biggest weak point of the Zionist regime unfolds when the Palestinians urge [the fulfillment of] their rights and surely will this path pay off if they put aside fabricated solutions and if they rely on democracy.
Interviewer: Given the formal registration of the Islamic Republic’s proposal with the United Nations regarding the resolution of the question of Palestine, please tell us how the Zionist regime has reacted to such proposals?
FM Zarif: Remember that the oldest question that the United Nations has been dealing with is the question of Palestine. And from the very beginning, no good solution for the question of Palestine was brought up at the United Nations. It is interesting to know that even the Pahlavi regime had proposed a democratic solution for the question of Palestine and had rejected plans that violated the rights of the people of Palestine in favor of the Zionists. At that time too, Iran was one of the countries that did not approve of the plan to disintegrate Palestine. Of course, Arab countries were not in favor of the disintegration policy either and therefore, this mistake [the occupation of Palestine] should be resolved through a democratic solution.
However, the Zionist regime uses propaganda to label it as an issue of a group of anti-Semitic people there; however, it is not about anti-Semitism. Those who have an anti-Semitic background live somewhere else in the world. In this region, we do not have a record of anti-Semitism. People of the region have always hosted – and continue to host –Jews in a warm manner. We are obliged to respect Prophet Musa [Moses] as a divine prophet. We invite the followers of Prophet Musa (greetings be upon him) and of the Scripture [Torah and Bible] to unity. Therefore, no one can portray Muslims and Iranians – The people of the region have a record of saving the Jews – as anti-Semites.
What we argue is that Palestinians’ rights cannot be violated over such excuses and that the only path that can resolve the question of Palestine is the path of democracy. Today, many of the grave disasters in the world – including extremist Christianity and Judaism, and Islamophobia – are rooted in violating Palestinians’ rights and such disasters will not disappear unless the rights of the people of Palestine are restored through a democratic way.
Interviewer: After the martyrdom of General Soleimani, the Leader of the Revolution said about him, “That man empowered the Palestinians.” What measures had Martyr Soleimani taken making the Leader of the Revolution praise him in such a way? How does Iran support the camp of Resistance in the present time?
Zarif: The Islamic Republic has always stood by Palestinians’ and other Muslim nations’ side in their resistance, including Lebanon, Syria and other Arab countries whose lands have been occupied by the Zionist regime. Martyr Soleimani was, in fact, a symbol of the Iranian nation’s cooperation with and assistance to the nations of the region. Martyr Soleimani was an individual who mounted resistance not only in the face of the Zionist regime but also in the face of extremism and terrorism. He stood by the side of the resistant people of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. It could be said that Martyr Soleimani was not only a hero of Resistance but also a hero in the fight against terrorism and advocating peace.
Surely will his martyrdom will bring about many natural outcomes, some of which we witnessed in Iraq. After long periods of struggle and contention on the streets of Iraq, after the martyrdom of the Commander, all the people of that country became united in order to bury his pure body and later on, they demanded that the U.S. be expelled from Iraq.
Trump’s action was both foolish and cowardly, for he could not confront Martyr Soleimani in the battlefields and had to martyr, in the dead of night, our dear martyr and his companions – in particular, Martyr Abu-Mahdi al-Muhandis – using a drone. As the Americans themselves acknowledge, terrorist activities are a sign of cowardice, not of courage.
With such a cowardly and foolish act, Trump put an end to the U.S.’s presence in the region. In other countries including India too, the people held demonstrations against the U.S. in hundreds of cities. This indicates that with that action, the U.S. dealt itself a fundamental blow and it strengthened the camp of Resistance and the camp of anti-domination and anti-arrogance in the region and in the whole world.
Interviewer: As for the last question, if you have an account of your relationship with Hajj Qassem [Soleimani], please tell us about it.
Zarif: Almost at all moments, I had the blessing to meet with that great martyr. Whenever we were in Iran, we would hold a meeting once a week. Martyr Soleimani was a reasonable, intelligent and far-sighted man. He was never interested in merely chanting slogans. One could comfortably talk to him. We always had different viewpoints at the beginning of our meetings, but we always ended up reaching an agreement and we always divided weekly tasks among ourselves and we would always stay true to our words.
All of us – especially Hazrat-e Aqa [the Supreme Leader] – were always worried about Shahid Soleimani. Whenever I wanted to say goodbye to him, I would whisper “God is surely the Best Protector” in his ears. The last time I saw Shahid Soleimani was the Sunday afternoon of the same week when he would be martyred [on Friday].