Israeli PM attacks ‘infamous’ new Iranian president


Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett opened his first cabinet meeting since his new coalition government was sworn in last week with a condemnation of the new Iranian president.

He said the Iranian presidential election was a sign for world powers to “wake up” before returning to a nuclear deal with Tehran.

Iranian justice chief Ebrahim Raisi was elected on Saturday with 62% of the vote against a background of historically low turnout.

He is sanctioned by the United States in part for his involvement in the mass execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, at the end of the Iran-Iraq war.

Mr. Raisi did not specifically comment on the event.

Mr Bennett told the Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem that “of all the people that (Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali) Khamenei could have chosen, he chose the executioner of Tehran, the infamous man among Iranians and the world for leading the death committees that executed thousands of innocent Iranian citizens over the years ”.

Ebrahim Raisi (Ebrahim Noroozi / AP)

Mr Raisi’s ascendancy comes at a sensitive time for the region, as Iran and world powers step up efforts to resurrect Tehran’s 2015 tattered nuclear deal with world powers, which granted the country. Iran sanctions relief in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program.

For weeks, Iranian and American diplomats have been negotiating a return to the agreement in Vienna through European intermediaries.

Talks between the parties to the deal resumed on Sunday, the first round since the election that put extremists firmly in control of the Iranian government.

The historic nuclear deal, which Israel opposed, collapsed after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018.

This move saw Iran, over time, abandon any limitation on enrichment, and Tehran is currently enriching uranium to its highest levels ever, although still below military grade levels.

Although the White House has yet to weigh in on the Iranian election, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday that the outcome was unlikely to affect nuclear negotiations because the Supreme Leader Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wants the deal restored.

“The person who decides whether Iran will return to the Iran nuclear deal, assume its nuclear obligations under international law, is not the president of Iran, he is the supreme leader of Iran, and that person didn’t change from before the election, ”Mr. Sullivan said on CNN’s State of the Union.

From Israel, Bennett said Mr. Raisi’s election to the Iranian presidency was “the last chance for world powers to wake up before returning to the nuclear deal and understand who they are doing business with.”

“These guys are murderers, mass murderers: a brutal executioner regime must never be allowed to have weapons of mass destruction that will allow it to kill not thousands, but millions,” he said. .

New Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (Ariel Schalit / AP)
New Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (Ariel Schalit / AP)

Israel has long said it opposes the nuclear program of Iran’s nemesis and said it will prevent Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Iran insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Earlier this month, Israel’s outgoing Mossad intelligence chief reported that Israel was behind a series of recent attacks targeting the country’s nuclear program.

Mr. Bennett heads a broad coalition of parties ranging from ultra-nationalist Jews to liberal factions and a small Islamist party.

His government has called its first cabinet meeting since taking the oath of office last week, ousting longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from office and sending him into opposition for the first time in 12 years.


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