WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Hassan Rouhani of Iran delivered to the United Nations an extended plea to preserve the Iran nuclear deal while saying it was “not possible” to guarantee Israel security as long as it “usurped” Palestinian lands.
Rouhani, speaking Wednesday, derided the tough talk about his country delivered a day earlier by President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the launch of this year’s General Assembly in New York. His Twitter feed posted the lines as he spoke.
“Ugly, ignorant words were spoken by the U.S. president against the Iranian nation,” he said. “It’s disgraceful that the Zionist regime not committed to any international instrument or safeguard has the audacity to preach to peaceful nations.”
Trump and Netanyahu in their speeches both cast Iran as a rogue nation and said the 2015 nuclear deal trading sanctions relief for a rollback in Iran’s nuclear program was an “embarrassment.” Trump hinted there would a change in U.S. posture toward the deal, and Netanyahu said it should either be amended or canceled outright.
Rouhani, whose government still fends off criticism from Iranian hardliners opposed to the plan, cast it as a template for international peace deals.
“It belongs to the international community in its entirety and not only one or two countries,” he said of the deal otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. “The JCPOA can be a new model for global interactions.” Iran, he said, would “not be the first” to violate the deal.
Rouhani insisted that missile testing was “only for deterrence.” Trump and Netanyahu have said that Iran’s missile advances and its military adventurism are also reasons to re-examine the Iran deal.
The Iranian leader called for peaceful coexistence, but appeared to extend his invitation to everyone but Israel.
“It is not possible for a rogue and racist regime to trample upon the most basic rights of the Palestinians, and be usurpers of this land and enjoy security,” he said.
Rouhani’s predecessors and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have said they regard the entirety of Israel as illegitimate. Rouhani has not made his views clear.
He twice mentioned ancient Iranian gestures of friendship toward the Jews as exemplars of the current regime’s alleged commitment to diversity.
“We are the same people who rescued the Jews from Babylonian servility,” he said, referring to the Jewish communities established in Persia after they wer expelled by the Babylonians from Judea in the sixth century BCE. “Historically backing the oppressed, Iran upholds the right of the Palestinian people as it did those of the Jewish people centuries ago.”