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Iran's media backtracks on Rohani remarks on Israel

Latest update : 2013-08-02

Iranian media backtracked Friday on remarks by president-elect Hassan Rohani, who told a pro-Palestinian rally Friday that Israel had inflicted a “wound” on the Muslim world. Early reports quoted Rohani as saying the Israeli wound "must be cleansed”.

Iranian media outlets were forced to backtrack Friday on their reports of remarks by president-elect Hassan Rohani, who told a pro-Palestinian rally that Israel had inflicted a “wound” on the Muslim world, with initial reports quoting Rohani as saying the Israeli wound "must be cleansed”.

Two days before Rohani is to be inaugurated as Iran’s new president, early reports by Iran’s student news agency ISNA and the Mehr news outlet quoted Rohani as saying: “The Zionist regime is a wound that has sat on the body of the Muslim world for years that must be cleansed.”

ISNA later acknowledged its mistake and corrected its story. Mehr altered its story, taking out the reference to “cleansing” without an explanation.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quick to denounce the Rohani remarks as they were initially reported.

"The true face of Rohani 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 they reflects the regime's plans.”

“A nation that threatens to destroy the state of Israel must not be allowed to have weapons of mass destruction,” Netanyahu added, in a reference to Iran's controversial nuclear programme.

The initially reported comments by Rohani, who is viewed as a moderate cleric in Iran, closely echoed the firebrand anti-Israeli language of outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The ‘right’ remarks on Israel

Iran’s Press TV later broadcast a new version of Rohani’s statements as an excerpt from an exchange between Rohani and journalists at a Friday rally to mark Iran’s annual Qods Day in support of 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),” Rohani can be seen saying in the segment.

The massive Qods Day rallies included speeches and sermons supporting the Palestinian cause and condemning Israel. State television broadcast footage of hundreds of thousands of people on the march nationwide, chanting "Death to Israel" and "Death to America".

In reference to the new round of peace talks that began this week between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Rohani told the crowds that Israel “is continuing with its aggressive nature against the backdrop of an excuse for compromise", adding that the talks are providing the Israelis with "a good opportunity to project a peaceful appearance".

"This day in actuality is a reminder that Muslims will not forget their historic right [to Jerusalem] and will continue to stand against aggression and tyranny," Rohani said at a rally.

His statements underscored his adherence to Iran's traditional support for the Palestinian cause and the rejection of the state of Israel, an unwavering cornerstone of the Islamic republic's foreign policy since it was formed in the aftermath of the 1979 revolution.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)


Date created : 2013-08-02

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