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February 4, 2014 11:52 am

Iran Parliament to Question FM Zarif for Saying PA Peace Deal Could Lead to Iran Recognizing Israel

avatar by Joshua Levitt

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif being interviewed on Germany's Deutsche Welle, broadcast on February 3, 2014. Photo: Screenshot / Deutsche Welle.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif being interviewed on Germany's Deutsche Welle, broadcast on February 3, 2014. Photo: Screenshot / Deutsche Welle.

The Iranian Parliament has called Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to respond to statements made in a German television interview that the Islamic Republic would consider recognizing Israel if it reached a final peace deal with the Palestinian Authority, according to Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency, quoting Ghasem Jafari, a member of the Principalist faction in the parliament.

“Zarif’s remarks are inconsistent with the principles upheld by the system, since Imam Khomeini (RA) believed that the Zionist regime was a malign tumor and the Leader believed it as ‘bastard,'” Jafari said. “The Islamic Republic has expended great sums so that the Zionist regime would not be recognized.”

Mehr described Jafari as saying that Iran’s foreign minister had “no authority to voice his opinion about the Zionist regime.” Contrary to the more moderate stance that Iranian Prime Minister Hassan Rouhani has tried to portray on the world stage, Jafari’s interview with Mehr showed an Iranian faction that was holding a harder line.

Jafari told Mehr: “In the past, the US officials threatened Iran every six months, but after the new cabinet assumed office, and after the Geneva deal, they have threatened Iran every week or every day.”

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“The remarks by the foreign minister contributed to the will of the Parliamentarians to collect signatures for questioning him, however they had been trying not to go to such extremes, so the ‘question plan’ will be handed to the Board with many signatures.”

Mehr said Jafari was referring to a movement within the Iranian Parliament that had been unanimous in its desire to question Zarif because of his failure to publish the full text of the Geneva nuclear deal with world powers before it was agreed to. Mehr said, at the time, the parliamentary speaker had opposed upbraiding Zarif, and the “question plan,” as it was referred to, was put on hold.

Zarif’s comments were made in an interview broadcast on German television Deutsche Welle on Monday, the Times of Israel reported. Zarif was in Munich to participate in a security conference on Saturday, where U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was also criticized for going off-script.

In the German interview, Zarif also described the Holocaust as an event that was “tragically cruel and should not happen again.” He said, “We have nothing against the Jews. We do not feel threatened by anyone.”

Zarif then said, “After the problem with the Palestinians is resolved, the conditions that will enable recognition of the State of Israel will be established.”

“If the Palestinians are happy with the solution, then nobody — nobody — could prevent that from happening,” he said, though he was speaking in the conditional tense, saying “that no acceptable agreement had been proposed thus far to the Palestinians.”

“The Palestinians need recognition and afterward it will be possible to discuss other solutions,” he said in the interview, which is partially available online.

Meanwhile, another semi-official Iranian news outlet, Fars, reported that Zarif denied ever having made the comments on peace with Israel, and about the Holocaust.

Fars published the denial from Zarif’s lieutenant, Deputy Foreign Minister Hassan Qashqavi, quoting him as saying:

“In a phone conversation that I had with Mr. Zarif, he completely rejected the remarks attributed to him and declared that the Islamic Republic’s stance about the (Zionist) regime is what has been repeatedly announced by the country’s diplomacy apparatus and this stance has not changed.”

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