Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday called Israel a cancerous tumor that is used by Western cultures to promote their interests in the Middle East, The Times of Israel reported.
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Although Israel-bashing is common among Iran’s leaders, Rouhani, who is more moderate, “rarely employs such rehetroci,” the news outlet reported.
Speaking at an annual Islamic Unity Conference, Rouhani said “one of the ominous results of World War II was the formation of a cancerous tumor in the region.”
He also called Israel a “fake regime” set up by Western countries.
Iran has long been identified by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “Israel’s greatest threat” due to its nuclear weapons and support of anti-Israel terrorist groups, the report states.
Terrorist groups such as Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas, which want to see Israel destroyed, are typically supported by Iran.
Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, regularly calls Israel a cancer of the region and says he believes it must be removed.
Rouhani also on Saturday accused the U.S. of forming close ties with “regional Muslim nations” to protect Israel. The comment was apparently a reference to Iran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia and the kingdom’s Sunni Arab allies.
Bowing to American pressure equals “treason,” he said.
Rouhani added that Iran will defend Saudi Arabia from “terrorism and superpowers,” the report states.
“We do consider you as a brother,” he said.
“We do consider the people of Mecca and Medina our brothers,” he added, referring to Islamic cities in Saudi Arabia.
Nearly three years ago, Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran, after Iranian protesters “stormed its diplomatic posts in Iran in response to the kingdom’s execution of a prominent Shiite cleric,” according to the report. The two countries support opposite sides in the Syrian and Yemen wars.