Israel and the United States did not seem to be speaking with one voice regarding the inauguration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday. While Washington was welcoming the new leader’s conciliatory tone, Israel was warning that nothing has changed.
“The inauguration of President Rouhani presents an opportunity for Iran to act quickly to resolve the international community’s deep concerns over Iran’s nuclear program,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement shortly after Rouhani was sworn in.
“Should this new government choose to engage substantively and seriously to meet its international obligations and find a peaceful solution to this issue, it will find a willing partner in the United States,” he said.
But on Friday, a comment by Rouhani appeared to confirm Israeli fears that the regime’s anti-Israeli animus was no less dangerous than before.
Rouhani said on Friday that Israeli policy toward the Palestinians had inflicted a “wound” on the Muslim world, according to a segment of his remarks broadcast on Iran’s state-run media.
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.”
ISNA later retracted the report, saying unidentified news agencies had distorted Rouhani’s remarks.
Speaking before the retraction, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Rouhani’s remarks 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 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.