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Israeli president, unlike PM, welcomes result of Iran's election

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-6-17 8:26:15

Israeli President Shimon Peres on Sunday congratulated Hassan Rouhani on winning Iran's presidential election, contradicting the stance of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

While criticizing the policy of incumbent Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Peres said the results prove the Iranian people are against extremism. "That's why the Iranian people voted for him."

His stance contradicts that of Netanyahu and several other Israeli officials, who tried to cool off the world's optimism after the victory of Rouhani, who had won the elections over the weekend.

"The international community must not give in to wishful thinking or temptation and loosen the pressure of Iran for it to stop its nuclear program," Netanyahu said at the beginning of a weekly cabinet meeting Sunday morning.

The sentiment was also expressed by Israeli International Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz, who is in charge of monitoring strategic threats.

"As long as Iran's nuclear policy is dictated by Ayatollah (Ali) Khamenei (Iran's supreme leader), sanction pressure against Iran must continue, regardless of the desire of the Iranian people for progress and change in the government of Iran," Steinitz told Army Radio Sunday morning.

On the other hand, left-wing politicians blasted the prime minister for using the "Iranian threat" narrative for political intentions.

"I extend my sympathy to the Israeli government that must bid farewell to Ahmadinejad, who served as a propaganda card and an excuse to avoid dealing with Israel's real problems," Chairman of left-wing Meretz party, Zahava Gal-On, said in a statement.

Israel and Iran are long-time enemies, with Israel considering a nuclear Iran the biggest threat to its existence. Iran, for its part, insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Posted in: Mid-East