Israeli President Shimon Peres expressed hope on Wednesday that his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would vanish during the coming year, along with others whom he said threaten the Jewish State.
“I pray that next year will be the greatest year in the history of the State of Israel and that those, like Ahmadinejad, who threaten us will disappear,” his office quoted him in English as telling visitors to his official residence during an open day to mark Sukkot, the week-long Jewish Feast of Tabernacles.
Iranians will go to the polls in June to elect a successor to Ahmadinejad who is in his second and final term as the president of the Islamic republic.
Israel and the United Nations have complained about Iranian leaders’ remarks calling into question Israel’s right to exist, with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon telling Ahmadinejad and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in August that their anti-Israel comments were “offensive and inflammatory.”
“Iran’s rulers repeatedly deny the Holocaust and call for Israel’s destruction,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an address to the UN General Assembly last week.
Israel and much of the international community believes Iran’s nuclear programme masks a weapons drive, a charge Tehran denies.
The Jewish state, the Middle East’s sole, if undeclared, nuclear power, has said a nuclear-armed Iran would pose an existential threat to Israel and will not rule out military action to prevent Tehran obtaining such arms.