(JTA) — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called Israel a “cancerous tumor” and a “fake regime” in during his address to an annual Islamic Unity Conference.
“One of the ominous results of World War II was the formation of a cancerous tumor in the region,” Rouhani said on Saturday, referring to Israel. He also said that Israel is a “fake regime” set up by Western countries.
It is unusual for Rouhani to criticize Israel in such strong terms, though other officials, including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to Rouhani on Saturday night, after the end of the Jewish Sabbath.
“Israel knows very well how to defend itself from the murderous Iranian regime,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “Rouhani’s slander, which calls for the destruction of Israel, proves yet again why the nations of the world need to join in the sanctions against the Iranian terrorist regime which threatens them.”
Rouhani said in his address that the United States cultivates close ties with “regional Muslim nations” to protect Israel, referring to Saudi Arabia. He said succumbing to American pressure is “treason.”
Meanwhile, On Sunday, Khamenei tweeted insults against Israel in which he said that Israel was defeated by Hezbollah in the second Lebanon war and in the last three conflicts with Gaza.
He tweeted: “The Zionist regime is clearly weaker than 10, 20 years ago. A few years ago they fought Hezbollah for 33 days and were defeated. They were defeated 2 years later in the 22-day war on Palestinian resistance; in 8-day war on oppressed people of Gaza and recently in the 2-day war.”