Israel ‘unpleasantly surprised’ by mild US reaction to Khamenei’s vicious speech

Iranian leader called Israel ‘rabid dog’ and Israelis ‘not human,’ yet Washington issued only vague response; Labor MK demands Kerry, Ashton condemn remarks

Raphael Ahren
The Times of Israel

Jerusalem is “unpleasantly surprised” that, as of Thursday afternoon, the Obama administration had not unequivocally condemned vicious anti-Israel statements made Wednesday morning by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, senior Israeli officials told The Times of Israel.

In an address to an assembly of tens of thousands of Basij militiamen, Khamenei declared that Israel was doomed to fail and characterized the “Zionist regime” as the “sinister, unclean rabid dog of the region.” He also said Israelis “cannot be called human beings.” Footage of the event showed the crowd shouting “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”…

…Khamenei delivered the speech hours before the resumption of talks in Geneva between the P5+1 countries and Iran on thwarting Iran’s rogue nuclear program.

To Israel’s dismay, the speech did not prompt an immediate condemnation by the United States, the officials said Thursday.

US Secretary of State John Kerry did speak out against Khameini’s address, yet stopped short of issuing a forthright condemnation…

…On Wednesday, in response to a reporter’s question, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki called the comments “not helpful.” She said, in full: “I think at this point in the negotiations, things are certainly sensitive, and certainly we are focused on moving all sides towards a successful outcome. Certainly, you’re all familiar with how we feel about Israel — they’re our close ally, a close friend, we are very focused on their security — one of the reasons that we’re so committed to these talks. Obviously, comments like these [by Khamenei] are not helpful, but we still believe that both sides are negotiating in good faith. We still believe that we’re closer than we were going into Geneva, and we still feel that we have an opportunity to move forward on a diplomatic path with the Iranians, and I would feel pretty confident in saying that the other P5+1 members feel the same way.”

By contrast, a French government spokesperson said soon after Khamenei had spoken that President Francois Hollande considered the comments to be “unacceptable” and that they would complicate the Geneva talks…

The complete article is at The Times of Israel.

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