Rowhani Israel remark shows his 'true face': Netanyahu

AFP , Friday 2 Aug 2013

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu says Rowhani's true face 'has been revealed earlier than expected'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticised anti-Israeli comments on Friday by Iranian president-elect Hassan Rowhani, saying he was showing his true colours.

"The true face of Rowhani has been revealed earlier than expected," Netanyahu said in a statement.

"Even if the Iranians work to deny these comments, this is what the man thinks and reflects the regime's plans," he said.

Rowhani said Israel was a foreign body that must be removed, and cast doubt on efforts to revive peace talks with the Palestinians.

"The Zionist regime is a wound inflicted for years on the body of the Muslim world that must be cleansed," Rowhani told reporters attending annual Quds Day rallies, in remarks reported by media.

His comments come a day before Rowhani, a moderate cleric by the standards of Iran's political system, is to assume the country's highest elected office.

"The president's remarks should awake some of the world from its illusion" about Rowhani, Netanyahu continued.

"The president has changed in Iran but the goal of the regime remains to build a nuclear weapon to threaten Israel, the Middle East and peace and security throughout the world.

"We must not let a country that threatens Israel with destruction possess a weapon of mass destruction," he railed.

Iran's rejection of Israel as a state has been an unfaltering cornerstone of its foreign policy since the 1979 birth of the Islamic republic.

In an allusion to fresh peace talks between the Jewish state and the Palestinian Authority, Rowhani also charged that "Israel is continuing with its aggressive nature against the backdrop of an excuse for compromise."

The talks are providing the Israelis with "a good opportunity to project a peaceful appearance," he said.

Iran staged massive rallies with speeches and sermons to mark the annual Quds Day, which supports the Palestinian cause.

State television broadcast footage of hundreds of thousands of people on the march nationwide, chanting "Death to Israel" and "Death to America."

Tensions between regional arch-foes Iran and Israel hit a high during the eight-year presidency of Rowhani's predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, marked by his repeated controversial remarks, including the denial of the Holocaust.

But even before Rowhani's comments, Netanyahu kept up Israel's belligerent rhetoric despite the Iranian presidency's change of hands. He has called Rowhani a "wolf in sheep's clothing" who would "smile and build a bomb."

Israel, the region's sole if undeclared nuclear power, and Western powers accuse Iran of using its atomic energy programme as a cover for developing an atomic bomb. Tehran vehemently denies the charge.

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