Iran's Rouhani misquoted in remarks on Israel: state TV

DUBAI (Reuters) - Two days before his
inauguration as Iran's new president, Hassan
Rouhani said on Friday that Israeli occupation
of Palestinian land had inflicted a "wound"
on the Muslim world, according to a segment
of his remarks broadcast on Iran's state-run
Press TV.
An earlier report by Iran's student news
agency ISNA had quoted Rouhani as saying:
"The Zionist regime is a wound that has sat
on the body of the Muslim world for years
and needs to be removed."
That version echoed the fiercely anti-Israeli
language of outgoing President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad, but was swiftly repudiated by
Iranian state media, which said unidentified
news agencies had distorted Rouhani's
remarks.
Press TV then broadcast an excerpt from an
exchange between Rouhani and journalists at
a rally to mark Iran's annual Al Qods Day in
support of the Palestinians.
"After all, in our region there's been a
wound for years on the body of the Muslim
world under the shadow of the occupation of
the holy land of Palestine and the beloved
al-Qods (Jerusalem)," Rouhani said in the
segment.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
seized on ISNA's version of Rouhani's
comments, saying they showed the reputedly
moderate Iranian cleric was as hostile to
Israel as Ahmadinejad, whose denial of the
Holocaust and description of Israel as a
"cancerous tumor" prompted international
condemnation.
The United States and its allies suspect Iran
of seeking a nuclear weapons capability.
Tehran says its nuclear program is purely for
peaceful purposes, but Israel regards it as a
threat to its existence and refuses to rule out
military action.
With a more pragmatic president in Iran,
Western countries may see a better chance
for diplomacy to lead to a deal to curb
Tehran's uranium enrichment program and
avoid any conflict.
"The true face of Rouhani has been revealed
sooner than expected. Even if they hurry to
deny his words - this is what the man thinks
and this is the Iranian regime's plan of
action," Netanyahu said in a statement.
Rouhani's words "must awaken the world
from the illusion in which part of it is placed
since the Iranian elections", he declared,
saying Iran still aimed "to acquire nuclear
weapons in order to threaten Israel, the
Middle East and world peace".
"A nation that threatens to destroy the state
of Israel must not be allowed to have
weapons of mass destruction," he said.
Ahmadinejad addressed Israel on Qods Day
in his last speech as president. "You planted
wind in our region and you will reap the
storm. I swear to God that a ferocious storm
is coming and it will uproot the Zionist
entity," Iran's state news agency IRNA
quoted him as saying.
(Reporting by Marcus George in Dubai and Ori
Lewis in Jerusalem; writing by Alistair Lyon;
editing by Jon Boyle)