Switzerland expressed regret on Friday after its ambassador to Iran displayed a cartoon depicting two doves relieving themselves on Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s head, at an event promoting Iranian business opportunities.
Ambassador Giulio Haas showed the image during a speech to hundreds of Swiss and Iranian business people at a Zurich hotel on Thursday, in an incident that Israel condemned as “ugly.”
The Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) said the “questionable cartoon” was used without its knowledge. “The FDFA regrets the use of this cartoon and considers it tasteless,” it said in a statement.
In his speech, Haas called Iran the “pole of stability in a very, very unsafe region.” He urged Swiss businesses not to delay their endeavors in Iran, a potentially lucrative market with a population of 80 million.
“Ambassador Haas did not intend to insult anybody with the cartoon,” the FDFA said. “If that is the case, however, he regrets it and seeks the pardon of everyone who could have felt insulted.”
The cartoon was condemned as “an ugly act” by Israel, which also took issue with Haas’ upbeat characterisation of Iran.
“What happened [in Zurich] proves that the nuclear deal … created an unbridled incentive to pour billions of dollars into Iran without it being required to changes its policy of terror and belligerence,” said Emmanuel Nahshon, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry.
“Greed begets attempts to grovel before the Iranian regime, with attendant loss of basic sense and self-respect.”