With his inauguration later this weekend, Iran’s president-elect Hassan Rowhani today called Israel a “wound” that must be removed. Upon his election earlier this year, Rowhani was hailed as a moderate compared to his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
“The Zionist regime is a wound that has sat on the body of the Muslim world for years and that must be cleansed,” Rowhani said at a pro-Palestinian-rights event.
In Iran’s June election, Western media celebrated Rowhani as a “moderate,” “reform-minded,” “pragmatist” candidate who was a “potentially hopeful sign” for the country and its diplomatic relations. But Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was skeptical from the beginning, saying that the West shouldn’t be fooled “into wishful thinking and weaken the pressure on Iran.”
“The true face of Rowhani has been revealed earlier than expected,” Netanyahu said in response to Rowhani’s most recent comments. “Even if the Iranians work to deny these comments, this is what the man thinks and reflects the regime’s plans.”
UPDATE: Iranian state-run Press TV issued a correction to previous reports of Rowhani’s comments. According to Press TV, Rowhani said, “After all, in our region there’s been a wound for years on the body of the Muslim world under the shadow of the occupation of the holy land of Palestine and the beloved al-Qods (Jerusalem).”