Iran's Rouhani misquoted in remarks on Israel: state TV

DUBAI Fri Aug 2, 2013 9:30am EDT

Iranian President-elect Hassan Rohani speaks with the media during a news conference in Tehran June 17, 2013. REUTERS/Fars News/Majid Hagdost

Iranian President-elect Hassan Rohani speaks with the media during a news conference in Tehran June 17, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Fars News/Majid Hagdost

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DUBAI (Reuters) - Two days before his inauguration as Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani said on Friday that Israeli occupation of Palestinian land had inflicted a "wound" on the Muslim world, according to a segment of his remarks broadcast on Iran's state-run Press TV.

An earlier report by Iran's student news agency ISNA had quoted Rouhani as saying: "The Zionist regime is a wound that has sat on the body of the Muslim world for years and needs to be removed."

That version echoed the fiercely anti-Israeli language of outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but was swiftly repudiated by Iranian state media, which said unidentified news agencies had distorted Rouhani's remarks.

Press TV then broadcast an excerpt from an exchange between Rouhani and journalists at a rally to mark Iran's annual Al Qods Day in support of the Palestinians.

"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)," Rouhani said in the segment.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seized on ISNA's version of Rouhani's comments, saying they showed the reputedly moderate Iranian cleric was as hostile to Israel as Ahmadinejad, whose denial of the Holocaust and description of Israel as a "cancerous tumor" prompted international condemnation.

The United States and its allies suspect Iran of seeking a nuclear weapons capability. Tehran says its nuclear program is purely for peaceful purposes, but Israel regards it as a threat to its existence and refuses to rule out military action.

With a more pragmatic president in Iran, Western countries may see a better chance for diplomacy to lead to a deal to curb Tehran's uranium enrichment program and avoid any conflict.

"The true face of Rouhani has been revealed sooner than expected. Even if they hurry to deny his words - this is what the man thinks and this is the Iranian regime's plan of action," Netanyahu said in a statement.

Rouhani's words "must awaken the world from the illusion in which part of it is placed since the Iranian elections", he declared, saying Iran still aimed "to acquire nuclear weapons in order to threaten Israel, the Middle East and world peace".

"A nation that threatens to destroy the state of Israel must not be allowed to have weapons of mass destruction," he said.

Ahmadinejad addressed Israel on Qods Day in his last speech as president. "You planted wind in our region and you will reap the storm. I swear to God that a ferocious storm is coming and it will uproot the Zionist entity," Iran's state news agency IRNA quoted him as saying.

(Reporting by Marcus George in Dubai and Ori Lewis in Jerusalem; writing by Alistair Lyon; editing by Jon Boyle)

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Comments (46)
Wiggymaster wrote:
The Iranian rhetoric will never change regardless of who is president. The president is nothing more than a figurehead and a grunt for the inner circle of clerics/”grand Ayatollah” that runs the country. Anyone who expected anything different from Iran is a fool. Their “elections” are no less choreographed than a Broadway show. Look at the green movement, and the brutal crackdown that all but wiped out the last hope of regime change short of full-scale war. These guys are actively working on nukes, and the only goal they had with these elections were to distract the more silly western nations (see: most of Europe) and get them to reduce sanctions.

Aug 02, 2013 7:26am EDT  --  Report as abuse
treyhaislip wrote:
Funny how you never hear Israel make any statements such as these. Israel doesn’t call for the annihilation of the Arab world/countries. Look up how many times Israel has been attacked by numerous countries–and kept her Independence.

Aug 02, 2013 8:24am EDT  --  Report as abuse
krsdal wrote:
Last count there Rohani. Israel over 200 50 kiloton Bombs or better.
Iran= ?
Israel How many F-16′s? 400?

Cruise missles Bunker Busters Subs artillery
trained combat ready men and women?
Ability to mine every harbor and port

Aug 02, 2013 8:39am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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