Annihilating Israel still Iran's goal according to top Iranian advisor

by Kimberly Pennington, National Correspondent |
Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond (L) shakes hands with Iran's President Hassan Rouhani before a meeting at the President's Palace in Tehran, Iran August 24, 2015. | REUTERS/Darren Staples

TEHRAN, Iran (Christian Examiner) -- While President Barak Obama tries to win support for a controversial nuclear weapons agreement with Iran which would restrict the nation's ability to produce nuclear weapons for 15 years, Iranian officials continue to publicly discuss their goal to completely annihilate Israel.

Hossein Sheikholeslam, the Iranian Parliament Speaker's Advisor for International Affairs, told reporters in Iran Tuesday, "Israel should be annihilated and this is our ultimate slogan."

His remarks came as a response to comments by British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond who questioned whether Iran really had that goal.

Hammond, who was in Iran Sunday to re-open the British embassy in Tehran after a four-year closure due to strained relations between the two nations, said current Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has a "more nuanced" position on Israel than his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Hammond also dismissed calls for "death to Israel" by Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khameni stating there was a difference between rhetoric and policy. "We've got to distinguish between revolutionary sloganizing and what Iran actually does in the conduct of its foreign policy," Hammond said.

Sheikholeslam says Hammond is mistaken.

"Our positions against the usurper Zionist regime have not changed at all," he said, according to The Times of Israel which also reported Sheikholeslam told a Hamas news outlet earlier this month that Iran resisted pressure from world powers during nuclear negotiations to end political involvement in Gaza, Syria and Yemen.

"These powers admitted that the reason for their pressure on us is our position on Israel. We told them that we reject the existence of any Israeli on this earth," he reportedly said.

Rouhani's own comments point to the accuracy of Sheikholeslam's statements.

The Washington Free Beacon said Rouhani described Israel as a "festering Zionist tumor" in 2014. In the same article, Iranian dissident Saeed Ghasseminejad, co-founder of Iranian Liberal Students and Graduates, said the world was being fooled by Rouhani and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, Iran's lead negotiator with the West. Ghasseminejad claims the two are masquerading as moderates.

"Rouhani and Zarif to Khamenei are the same as Joachim von Ribbentrop was to Adolf Hitler," Ghasseminejad said. "Both are loyal servants to a dangerous apartheid regime that wants to change the world order dramatically and is ready to use any means available to reach its deal. Like Ribbentrop, it is their job to fool the world, buy time for the regime, and sell a fake image to the world."

Shortly before his 2013 inauguration, Rouhani reportedly called Israel "an old wound" that needed to be removed according to reports from CBS News and The Independent, and earlier this year, Rouhani vowed Iranians would "shout hatred" for Israel on International Quds Day, an annual event started in 1979 by Imam Khomeini, Founder of the Islamic Republic, to show solidarity with Palestinians.

Iran's General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces issued a similar statement in July claiming widespread Iranian participation in International Quds Day rallies would indicate the "fake" Israeli society would soon collapse and Zionists should prepare for a revival of Palestine.

Millions of Iranians participated in the July 10, 2015 Day of Quds marches shouting "death to Israel" and "down with America" while torching U.S. and Israeli flags along with effigies of Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.