IRAN OPENS "LARGEST" CONFERENCE ON PALESTINIAN INTIFADA

By a Special Correspondent in the Iranian Capital

TEHRAN 24 Apr. (IPS) As the tension between Israel and the Palestinian escalates to new, dangerous heights, Iran is to host as from tomorrow 24 April a two days conference aimed at supporting the Palestinian struggle and extremists opposed to the US-brokered Peace Process.

The Tehran conference is the greatest conference ever held on the issue of Palestine, he said adding that the conference may determine the political equations of the region and the entire world in line with providing the tramped rights of the Palestinian nation, according to Hojjatoleslam Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour, the Secretary of the Conference.

Entitled "The International Conference of Support for the Intifada and the Islamic Revolution in Palestine," the two-day gathering is sponsored by the Iranian Majles, or parliament and organised by Hojjatoleslam Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour, the present leader of the Second Khordad Coalition fraction at the Majles.

120 worldwide NGOs gathered in the Iranian Capital Monday to discuss "human rights of the Palestinians", the organisers said.

The NGOs conference aims to render support for human rights of Palestinian people and children. It will exert pressure on international organisations to condemn the "Zionist" (Israel) regime as well as the racism and terrorism being exercised against the Palestinian nation.

Opening the NGO’s meeting, Speaker of the Majles Hojjatoleslam Mehdi Karoubi criticised international human rights and other organisations for their "indifference and double standard policies" towards the plight of the Palestinian people.

Observing that the Tehran Conference on supporting the Palestinians is sponsored by the Iranian parliament, some Iranian political analysts said it points to a "more moderate and pragmatic approach" in Iranian policy towards the peace process and the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.

Though the organisers said some 35 Arab and Islamic nations, as well as all Palestinian opposition groups, the Iranian backed Lebanese Hezbollah and some personalities from the Western world are expected to take part in the meeting, but journalists and observers in Tehran said no Muslim nation has send any official envoy to the meeting.

Talking to IRNA, the official Iranian news agency, Mr. Mohtashamipour called on all Muslim nations to resist against aggression by big powers, particularly by their illegitimate representative, that is the Zionist regime, in the region.

Stressing that the "aggressive nature" of the "Zionist" regime is not limited to the Palestinian nation today, Mr. Mohtashamipour said the Lebanese territory and the Syrian bases are also attacked by the Israeli forces".

He expressed hope that the Tehran confab will be successful in taking practical steps towards settlement of the Palestinian problems.

Over the past few months Iran has put forward its own peace plan, which calls for all Palestinian refugees and their families to be given the right to return to what was Palestine before the creation of Israel in 1948, and a referendum on the future of Palestine in which all those who lived on the land before Israel was founded, Christians, Jews and Muslims, would have a vote.

The conference is expected to endorse the Iranian initiatives.

A former Interior Minister and Ambassador to Syria, Mr. Mohtashamipour is also known as the "Godfather" of the Iranian-backed, financed and supported Lebanese Hezbollah because of the role he played in the formation of Organisation when he was in Damascus.

The Hezbollah became widely popular with the Arab and Palestinian extremists opposed to peaceful solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after it succeeded in kicking the Israeli forces out of South Lebanon, where the Tsahal had created a security zone.

Iranian and Israeli military experts agree that the unilateral Israel withdrawal from the security zone under the former cabinet of General Ehud Barak, -- "a big mistake", say some Israelis -- served as a "model" for the new intifada, that is also supported by Tehran.

A 24 men strong Palestinian delegation led by Palestine National Council Speaker Salim al Za’noun will attend the meeting, bringing with himself a verbal message from Yaser Arafat to Iranian President calling for more collaboration between Iran and the PA on facing the Zionist aggression, IRNA reported.

But the Palestinian opposition is also expected to be out in force, including the Iranian-created Islamic Jihad and the more popular and stronger HAMAS, with which Tehran has expanded its relations in recent years.

Sheikh Hasan Nasrallah, secretary general of the Lebanese Hezbollah was in Tehran days before the start of the conference, discussing with top Iranian officials, including Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i, the leader of the Islamic Republic, more effective ways co-ordinating operations between Hezbollah and Palestinian organisations opposed to peace process.

Iranian political parties and university students from the Office to Consolidate Unity (OCU), the Islamic Association of the Students and the Supreme Leader's Representative Office at the Universities will take part in the one-day conference.

Iraqi Parliament President Sa’dun Hammadi has also been invited, but decided to boycott the Tehran meeting after the massive missile attack by Iranian forces over bases of the Iraqi-supported and financed Mujahedeen Khalq Organisation inside the Iraqi territory, from where shell Iranian positions.

Iran flew in some of the Palestinians wounded in clashes with Israeli troops for treatment.

Earlier Wednesday, the Palestinian Authority called on Arab states to take "tangible measures" in support of the Palestinian people and to do away with political subservience to the United States.

Top PA official IRNA identified as Amer told the agency that "Israel and the United States will not be scared by all the rhetorical statements coming out of Arab capitals" which he said "were essentially meant to appease domestic public opinions in these countries."

He said the PA hopes the Arab states will dispatch an Arab league delegation to the US and Europe to make clear to American and European officials that the Palestinian position is the same as the Arab position and that the continued American backing of Israeli aggression is unacceptable to the Arab world.

Talking privately to Iran Press Service, some Iranians criticised the government for spending such a "huge sum of money" on matters that are not of "Iranian people’s priorities".

"Iranian leadership should pay more attention to the situation of their own people instead of investing so much of time, energy and financial resources on the Palestinian-Israeli complicated issue of which we are not a party", one Iranian scholar pointed out, asking his name not to be published. ENDS INTIFADA TEHRAN 23401