TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran's president-elect Hassan Rowhani said on Friday Israel was a foreign body that must be removed, and also cast doubt on efforts to revive peace talks with the Palestinians.
"The Zionist regime is a wound inflicted for years on the body of the Muslim world that must be cleansed," Rowhani told reporters attending annual Quds Day rallies, in remarks reported by media.
His comments come a day before Rowhani, a moderate cleric by the standards of Iran's political system, is to assume the country's highest elected office.
Iran's rejection of Israel as a state has been an unfaltering cornerstone of its foreign policy since the 1979 inception of the Islamic republic.
In an allusion to fresh peace talks between the Jewish state and the Palestinian Authority, Rowhani charged that "Israel is continuing with its aggressive nature against the backdrop of an excuse for compromise".
The talks are providing the Israelis with "a good opportunity to project a peaceful appearance," he said.
Iran staged massive rallies to mark annual Quds Day, with speeches and sermons supporting the Palestinian cause and condemning Israel.
State television broadcast footage of hundreds of thousands of people on the march nationwide, chanting "Death to Israel" and "Death to America".