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Why Iran wants Palestine back on regional agenda

Iran hosts a conference in support of the Palestinian intifada as it seeks to put the Palestinian cause back at the top of its regional agenda.

Fatima Navab Safavi is the daughter of Mojtaba Navab Safavi (1924-1955), an Iranian cleric and one of the first to mobilize Iranian masses against Israel back in the early 1950s. Donning the traditional black chador, Safavi told Al-Monitor in an interview, "Years before the [1979] Islamic Revolution, my father was able to get thousands of young men ready at that time to go and fight to liberate Palestine. … Iran's relation to the Palestinian tragedy goes back to that time. My father was one of the first to make people in Iran aware about Palestine." She was among hundreds of Iranian, Arab and other international participants taking part in a conference held in Tehran on Feb. 21-22 in support of the Palestinian intifada and the city of Jerusalem.

With regional wars intensifying from Yemen to Syria, and with US President Donald Trump having officially put Iran "on notice," the Islamic Republic has chosen to respond in a different manner. Iran has highlighted its decision a year ago to boost its support for Palestinian factions fighting Israel and to say openly that it is putting this issue at the top of its agenda. Tehran's approach indicates how things in the region are changing following the election of Trump and amid reports of a possible Saudi-Israeli alliance backed by the United States aimed at preventing Iran from expanding its regional influence.

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