“Questioning Israel’s right to exist” or calling for the state of Israel’s destruction are absolutely unacceptable, Kurz told Rouhani.
Austria’s chancellor had harsh words for visiting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani over the Islamic Republic’s declared desire to destroy the Jewish state and its flagrant anti-Semitism.
Speaking during a joint press conference in Vienna on Wednesday, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz reprimanded Rouhani over Iran’s blatant anti-Semitism, saying that his country “strongly” condemns “all forms of anti-Semitism as well as any form of down-playing or denial of the Holocaust.”
Iran is a global promoter of Holocaust denial, and even holds an annual cartoon festival which mocks that cataclysmic event in Jewish history.
Kurz underscored that Israel’s concerns regarding threats from Iran “have to be taken seriously. Austria is unconditionally committed to the security of Israel and its citizens.”
“Questioning Israel’s right to exist or a call for destruction of the state of Israel are absolutely unacceptable,” Kurz reportedly declared.
Yuval Rotem, the Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, welcomed Kurz’s “strong words confronting the Iranian call to destroy Israel.”
“All countries should adopt such a firm rejection of Iran’s aggressive words and deeds towards Israel,” he tweeted.
Iran does not recognize Israel and regularly calls for its destruction.
In a rally in Tehran last year, Iran unveiled a digital clock in the city’s Palestine Square counting down the days to what it says will be the destruction of Israel in 2040.
The time frame appears to stem from comments made in 2015 by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who vowed there will be “nothing” left of Israel by the year 2040.
In September 2015, Khamenei proclaimed, “You [Israelis] will not see the coming 25 years and, God willing, there will not be something named the Zionist regime in next 25 years.”
He later tweeted in broken English, “Struggling, heroic and jihadi morale will leave no moment of serenity for Zionists.” Khamenei calls for Israel’s destruction almost on a weekly basis.
Most recently, Rouhani threatened Israel and stated that it can never feel safe, while calling for all Palestinians to “return to their homeland.”
Iran’s Terror Plot in Europe
Kurz also demanded “full clarification” from Rouhani on the case of Assadollah Assadi, a Vienna-based Iranian diplomat suspected of leading a plot to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in Europe.
Assadi was detained Sunday in Germany after a couple with Iranian roots was stopped in Belgium and authorities reported finding powerful explosives in their car.
Belgian authorities accuse Assadi of being part of a plot to set off explosives at a huge annual rally of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq group in neighboring France. French police also detained a man of Iranian origin.
Following the arrest of the Iranian diplomat, Iran’s ambassador was summoned to the Austrian foreign ministry on Monday.
“We expect full clarification and I would like to thank you, Mr. President, that you have assured us of support for this clarification,” said Kurz, speaking alongside Rouhani.
Iran’s foreign minister dismissed the allegations as a ploy to disturb Rouhani’s visit to Europe.
Referring to the incident, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated Tuesday that the “Iranian terror plot was planned on the soil of Europe on the same week that the European leaders are supposed to meet the president of Iran about circumventing the sanctions on Iran.”
“Here’s my message to the European leaders. Stop funding the very regime that is sponsoring terrorism against you and against so many others. Stop appeasing Iran,” he concluded.
AP contributed to this report.