The American delegation attending a ceremony in honor of Tunisia’s new constitution walked out after Iran’s parliament speaker called Israel a “cancer” of the region and accused the U.S. of devastating so-called Arab Spring revolutions.
“Even after the revolutions that happened in the region, the US and Israel tried to divert and devastate some of the revolutions so that Israel can benefit,” speaker of the Iranian parliament Ali Larijani said according to Iran’s official Press TV.
The U.S. embassy in Tunis said in a statement after the delegation left in protest.
"What was intended to be a ceremony honoring Tunisia's achievements was used by the Iranian representative as a platform to denounce the United States," it said.
The embassy was quoted by Reuters characterizing Larijani’s remarks as “false accusations and inappropriate comments.”
Iranian officials have previously slammed Israel as a “cancer” in the region that must be removed, which is one of the reasons the Israeli government has been so adamant about finding a way to halt Iran’s controversial nuclear program.
At his weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested that the decision by the Obama administration and European allies to ease sanctions on Iran have emboldened Iran to ratchet up its belligerent stance.
“The international easing of the sanctions against Iran have not led Iran to moderate its international aggression, the complete opposite has occurred,” Netanyahu said.
“The Iranian Foreign Minister recently met with the head of Islamic Jihad, Iran is continuing to supply terrorist organizations with deadly weapons, Iran continues to be complicit in massacres in Syria and to all this may be added the leader of Iran's crude and sharp attack against the US, alongside sending warships to the Atlantic Ocean,” Netanyahu said according to a transcript posted on the Prime Minister’s Office website. “What is happening here is that the international community has reduced the sanctions on Iran and Iran is stepping up its international aggression. This is the real result of the steps up until now.”
Over the weekend, Iran announced that its warships in the Atlantic would for the first time travel close to U.S. maritime borders. In addition, the Islamic Republic’s state television broadcast a documentary simulating attacks on an American aircraft carrier and Israeli cities
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in 2012 said that Iran would help any nation or group that confronts the “cancer” Israel, and that Israel is a “cancerous tumor that should be cut and will be cut.”
Other top officials including France’s President Francois Hollande attended the ceremony on Friday marking Tunisia’s new constitution which the Associated Press characterized as “one of the most progressive in the region.”
Tunisia was the site of the first “Arab Spring” revolution which inspired uprisings in other Middle Eastern countries including Egypt.