Iran’s President-Elect in Hot Waters Over Israel (Again)

Iran's President-Elect in Hot Waters Over Israel (Again)
It seems Iran’s soon-to-be empowered leader, Hasan Rouhani, has fallen through the ice before he even began skating, on the political ice-rink that is his country. Just two days prior to taking political office, Rouhani has immediately stirred furor across the civilized world, castigating his arch-nemesis, Israel.

Hasan Rouhani appeared at an annual holiday, known as International Quds Day, a government-sponsored event, which propagates pro-Palestinian ideology, and is commemorated on the final Friday of Ramadan. The event denounces the institution, development and preservation of a Jewish nation in Israel (Zionism), and opposes Israel’s rule of Jerusalem. During the ceremonial proceedings, Rouhani took center-stage, announcing, on state television, that “… a sore has been sitting on the body of the Islamic world for many years, in the shadow of the occupation of the holy land of Palestine and the dear Quds.” It’s claimed that this remark was a derisive jab at Israel’s occupation of Palestine and, considering the nature of his visit, these assertions are not without substance.

However, oddly, some have seen these comments as a marginal sign of improvement in Iran’s stance towards Israel. This perception is noted on the grounds that the president-elect failed to specifically name Israel, or reference the Zionist regime, a term ceaselessly bandied around by his eccentric predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; a man who failed to ingratiate himself to the Israeli people by making the outlandish comment, during an anti-Zionism conference, that Israel must “vanish from the pages of history”, whilst repeatedly questioning whether the Holocaust ever transpired.

None-the-less, these latest comments are unlikely to douse the flames of hostility and tension between the two countries. The Israeli government, in unison with the rest of the diplomatic world, continues to condemn Iran’s enduring attempts to fulfill a nuclear program. Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu recently addressed the American people, expounding upon the dangers of Iran’s nuclear ambitions on CBS News’ “Face the Nation”. His message was as austere, as it was blunt, suggesting the Islamic Republican to be bordering a “nuclear red line”, as he pictorially illustrated his point, crudely highlighting the red line on a cartoon bomb.

Meanwhile, despite enduring a slew of international sanctions, the Iranian government ploughs on with development of facilities and technology, aimed at enhancing its uranium laser enrichment capabilities. However, a recent Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) report provides the following recommendations, to circumvent furtherance of any nuclear development regimes,

“… any Iranian procurements of laser enrichment related technology, equipment, and materials, including subcomponents of advanced lasers…” should be detected and stopped.

Iranian diplomats, however, contend that their attempts at uranium enrichment is merely for peaceful purposes, including generation of energy and inclusion of radioisotopes in medical treatment and research schemes. The world community’s faith in this argument remains tenuous, as Iran continues to toe an anti-Israeli doctrine, providing backing to Hezbollah, a militant faction notorious for demonstrating its intense dislike towards Israeli rule.

On the other hand, at least from a superficial stance, Rouhani has promoted a more balanced and peaceful approach, vowing a “path of moderation” in their dealings with the West. Whether this is simply political maneuvering to alleviate the pressures of imposed economic sanctions, or a genuine offer of solidarity, remains to be seen.

The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has suggested that Rouhani’s recent June 14 electoral win will not bring about significant changes to Iranian policy, going so far as to call the new leader a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”.

Netanyahu sees the latest rhetoric from his adversary as an unadulterated reflection of his character and intentions, claiming “Rouhani’s true face has been revealed earlier than expected… even if they will now rush to deny his remarks, this is what the man thinks and this is the plan of the Iranian regime.” Continuing to bang the drum of Washington, he continued, “These remarks by President Rouhani must rouse the world from the illusion that part of it has been caught up since the Iranian elections.

“The president there has changed but the goal of the regime has not: To achieve nuclear weapons in order to threaten Israel, the Middle East and the peace and security of the entire world.”

Suffice to say, this is not the best of starts to Rouhani’s inauguration. Let’s hope relations can be mended quickly, so amicable negotiations can go ahead, ending the political stale-mate in which the two countries find themselves.

Written By: James Fenner

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