Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday called Israel a “cancerous tumor” established by Western countries to advance their interests in the Middle East.
Addressing an annual Islamic Unity Conference on Saturday, Rouhani said “one of the ominous results of World War II was the formation of a cancerous tumor in the region.” He went on to refer to Israel as a “fake regime” set up by Western countries.
Iran supports terror groups like Hezbollah and Hamas that are pledged to Israel’s destruction, in addition to positioning Iranian troops in Syria n proximity to Israel’s border.
Israel consistently condemns Iran as an existential threat to the Jewish state.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, condemned Rouhani’s remarks on Saturday evening, stating, “Israel knows very well how to defend itself from the murderous Iranian regime. Rouhani’s slander, which calls for the destruction of Israel, proves yet again why the nations of the world need to join in the sanctions against the Iranian terrorist regime which threatens them.”
Rouhani said the United States cultivates close ties with “regional Muslim nations” to protect Israel, an apparent reference to Iran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia and the kingdom’s Sunni Arab allies.
He said bowing to American pressure amounts to “treason.”
Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran nearly three years ago after Iranian protesters stormed its diplomatic posts in Iran in response the kingdom’s execution of a prominent Shiite cleric. The two countries support opposite sides in the wars in Syria and Yemen.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on Saturday also condemned Rouhani’s remarks.
“I strongly condemn the unacceptable statements by President Rouhani regarding Israel. Questioning Israel’s right to exist and calling for its destruction is absolutely unacceptable,” Kurz wrote on Twitter.
The chancellor added that Austria has a historic responsibility to fight anti-Semitism and support Israel. “The security of Israel is not negotiable for Austria,” he stressed.
This is not the first time that Kurz has spoken out against the calls in Iran for Israel’s destruction. In July, during a meeting in Vienna with Rouhani, Kurz said that calling for Israel’s destruction is “absolutely unacceptable”.
“The concerns of Israel have to be taken seriously. Austria is unconditionally committed to the security of Israel and its citizens,” he said.
The chancellor recently stressed in an interview on Israeli TV that “Israel’s security is not negotiable for us, that is absolutely clear. Israel will always have full backing from Austria.”
Rouhani’s vitriol against Israel is nothing new, as Iranian leaders have continuously called for Israel’s destruction, including Rouhani who has been touted by some as a “moderate” president.
Earlier this year, Rouhani said that Israel “can never feel safe” because it is “oppressing the Palestinian nation”.
(WIN & INN)