Chancellor rejects “cancerous ulcer” statement as “unacceptable” and affirms: “Israel’s security is not negotiable for Austria”.

President of Iran Hassan Rouhani

Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) has sharply rebuked Iranian President Hassan Rouhani for saying that Israel is a “cancer.” “I strongly condemn the recent unacceptable statements by President Rohani regarding Israel,” Kurz wrote on Twitter on Saturday.

“It is absolutely unacceptable for the right of existence of Israel to be questioned or the destruction of Israel is called,” said the chancellor, who in another Tweet reaffirmed the importance for Austria the resolute fight against all forms of anti-Semitism and support for Israel was, “The security of Israel is not negotiable for Austria,” said Kurz.

Rouhani said on Saturday at a conference on Islamic unity in Tehran, “One of the worst consequences of World War II was the creation of an illegitimate regime called Israel, and thus the onset of a cancer in the Middle East.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu then said, “The inflammatory rhetoric Rouhanis that the destruction of Israel calls, once again proving why the international community sanctions against the Iranian terror regime connect needs that threatens them.”

Shortly on Wednesday at an EU conference against anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, his commitment to Israel was underscored by the applause of top representatives of Jewish organizations. He also expressed criticism of EU policy towards Israel and spoke in this regard of a “concerted action against Israel” within the United Nations, which earned him sharp criticism by the Palestinian ambassador in Vienna, Salah Abdel Shafi. Unlike the US, Europeans have so far stuck to the Vienna nuclear deal with Tehran, which Israel has massively fought against.

At the beginning of July, the Chancellor made a statement in terms of Israel during a joint press appearance with Rouhani in Vienna. “In our view, it is absolutely unacceptable to question Israel’s right to exist or call for the destruction of Israel, and the security of Israel is not negotiable for us as the Republic of Austria,” said the Chancellor. Rouhani, who had previously left a statement of President Alexander Van der Bellen on the right to exist in Israel, commented, calling the “Zionists” an “occupying group and oppressor” and saying, “We Iranians saved the Jews in Babylon a debt to us.”

Briefly had to come for the decision to receive Rouhani in Vienna, sharp criticism from Israel. “The invitation to Rouhani is in stark contrast to the concern expressed by Kurz for Israeli security,” commented Efraim Zuroff, head of the Jerusalem-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, commenting on the visit in light of Kurz’s widely acclaimed statement that security Israel’s part of the Austrian state rationale.

The Iran-critical alliance “Stop the Bomb,” which protested loudly against the Iranian president’s visit, dismissed the Chancellor’s testimony to Rouhani’s address as “pure rhetoric.” “We will not let such rhetorical phrases in the eyes,” said “Stop the bomb” spokesman Stephan Grigat the APA, immediately after the performance of the Chancellor. “That’s what Europeans have been doing for 40 years.” The Iranians have therefore “learned to take note of it routinely and shrug their shoulders, because it remains inconsequential”.

By contrast, the American-Jewish Committee (AJC) noted: “We wish that the Iranian President would not have been received in Vienna, but note the strong words of Chancellor Kurz in Rouhani’s presence.” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emanuel Nachshon also shared Kurz’s statements on Twitter.