The armed wing of the ruling Fatah party, Aksa Martyrs Brigades, on Sunday became the first Palestinian group to publicly endorse Iran's call to eliminate Israel. In a leaflet distributed in the Gaza Strip, the group voiced full support for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's statements in which he said that Israel "must be wiped off the map."
Ahmadinejad also warned Arab countries against developing economic ties with Israel in response to its withdrawal form the Gaza Strip, which he dubbed as a "trick." "Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation's fury," he was quoted as saying. "Any [Islamic leader] who recognizes the Zionist regime means he is acknowledging the surrender and defeat of the Islamic world."
The leaflet by the Fatah group is the first of its kind since the Iranian president's speech. Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which are believed to be receiving financial aid from Iran, have refrained from reacting to the call to wipe Israel off the map. "We affirm our support and backing for the positions of the Iranian president toward the Zionist state which, by God's will, will cease to exist," said the leaflet. "Recognizing Israel's right to exist means underestimating the Palestinian people, who are making daily sacrifices to liberate Palestine and Jerusalem."
The Fatah group also hailed Ahamdinejad's appeal to the Palestinians to unite their ranks so they would be able to destroy Israel. Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah told the Jerusalem Post that the leaflet does not reflect the stance of the PA or its chairman, Mahmoud Abbas. "We strongly condemn the leaflet," said one official. "We believe it does not even reflect the position of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades."
All of which begs the question just who is running the Palestinian Authority?