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Hassan Rouhani, Iranian Leader Says Israel Is 'A Wound To Be Removed'

02/08/2013 13:08 BST | Updated 02/10/2013 10:12 BST

UPDATE: Reports published on Friday say Iranian President-elect Hassan Rouhani was misquoted by several news agencies. The Iran-Israel Observer states Rouhani's exact words were: "In our region, for many years a wound has sat on the body of world of Islam, in the shadow of the occupation of Palestine", thus making no direct reference to Israel or the "removal" of the wound. The correction was later repeated on Rouhani's official website.

Israel is "a wound" on the body of Islam and should be "removed", Iranian president-elect Hassan Rouhani has been quoted as saying, two days ahead of his inauguration.

Rouhani, who has pledged to follow a "path of moderation", reportedly made his comments after taking part in a pro-Palestine rally in Tehran on Friday.

"The Zionist regime has been a wound on the body of the Islamic world for years and the wound should be removed," he said, according to the country's semi-official ISNA news agency.

hassan rouhani

Hassan Rouhani was elected to the office of Iranian president in June

On the same day, his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmedinejad announced: "I will inform you with God as my witness, a devastating storm is on the way that will uproot the basis of Zionism," Al Jazeera reported.

Rouhani and Ahmedinejad were addressing crowds separately at International Al Quds Day - the last Friday of the Islamic month of Ramadan. Iran does not recognise Israel and uses the occasion to express support for Palestinians and emphasise the importance of Jerusalem for Muslims.

The Israeli Prime Minister has responded to Rouhani's reported comments, claiming they have revealed his "true" stance towards the Middle East peace process.

"Rouhani has shown his true colours sooner than expected," Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement published by Haaretz.

"This is what the man thinks and it is the action plan of the Iranian regime," he added.

The Iranian president elect's words will inevitably cast doubt on the possibility of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, despite the resumption of negotiations in Washington this week.

Fars, another semi-official news agency, reported Rouhani as saying: "Israelis show a compromising face to the world but continue their expansionism in practice."

Rouhani, a supposed reformist, was elected in June, marking the end of Ahmedinejad's difficult tenure characterised by unpredictability and confrontation.

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