After Iranian President-Elect Calls Israel a ‘Wound’ Netanyahu Responds: ‘Rouhani’s True Face Has Been Revealed Earlier than Expected’
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shot back at comments made Friday by Iran’s president-elect Hassan Rouhani, who, in keeping with the tradition of anti-Israel rhetoric of his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, called for the removal of Israel.
“Rouhani’s true face has been revealed earlier than expected. Even if they will now rush to deny his remarks, this is what the man thinks and this is the plan of the Iranian regime,” Netanyahu responded sharply in a statement.
Speaking in Tehran — just two days ahead of his inauguration — after attending “International Quds Day” events in solidarity with the Palestinians, Rouhani was quoted as saying, “In our region, for many years a wound has sat on the body of the world of Islam, in the shadow of the occupation of Palestine.”
Rouhani has been deemed a relative moderate by many in the West, but Netanyahu has warned that he is “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
“These remarks by President Rouhani must rouse the world from the illusion that part of it has been caught up in since the Iranian elections,” the Israeli premier counseled.
Rouhani won a landslide victory in Iran’s recent presidential election and has pledged to follow a “path of moderation,” promising greater openness over Iran’s nuclear program.
But Netanyahu has repeatedly argued that Rouhani lacks power and is only placating the West with his overtures.
“The President there has changed, but the goal of the regime has not: to achieve nuclear weapons in order to threaten Israel, the Middle East and the peace and security of the entire world. A country that threatens the destruction of the State of Israel must not be allowed to possess weapons of mass destruction,” Netanyahu said.
Separately, UN Watch, a Geneva-based non-governmental organization, urged UN chief Ban Ki-moon to pay attention to the situation, and called on UN official Jan Eliasson and former EU foreign minister Javier Solana to cancel their reported plans to attend Rouhani’s inauguration in light of Friday’s comments.
“It is urgent for leaders of the United Nations and especially its human rights officials to make it crystal clear to Iran’s new president that threatening a UN member state’s existence — and inciting masses to base hatred against another people — is not only offensive and inflammatory, it’s a gross breach of the UN’s charter and core human rights conventions,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, in a statement.
“We urge Mr. Ban to remind Rouhani, just as he told his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last year, that the UN charter obliges all member states to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. Given Rouhani’s ugly incitement today, it is vital that no UN or EU official dare risk granting legitimacy to such expressions of hatred and aggression by now participating in his inauguration.”
“We also call upon the democracies of Brazil, India and South Africa, which are leading members of the 120-strong Non-Aligned Movement, to condemn Iran and demand that it be removed from its position as chair of the influential UN voting bloc,” Neuer said.