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Israeli leader skeptical about Iranian Twitter greetings

September 07, 2013|By Edmund Sanders
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, shown attending a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem last Sunday, has discounted greetings sent by Iranian officials as a ploy.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, shown attending a weekly cabinet… (Abir Sultan / Pool Photo…)

JERUSALEM -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted coolly Saturday to comments on Twitter over the weekend by Iran’s foreign minister, and purportedly its new president, wishing Jews a happy new year on the holiday of Rosh Hashanah.

Netanyahu, who has been urging the United States and the international community to crack down on Iran’s disputed nuclear program, scoffed at suggestions that the widely circulated messages signal a more moderate approach by Iran and accused the Islamic Republic of trying to fool the world.

He said the only goal of the greetings by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was to “divert attention from the fact that even after the elections, it continues the enrichment of uranium and the construction of a plutonium reactor meant to allow it to develop nuclear weapons that will threaten Israel and the rest of the world."

Israel is the only country in the Middle East believed to possess nuclear bombs. It has threatened to strike Iran to prevent it from obtaining such weapons.

Netanyahu called upon the international community to “demand acts and not words” and noted that other Iranian leaders in recent days have warned that Israel would be destroyed in the event of a U.S. strike against Syria over the alleged use of chemical weapons by President Bashar Assad's military.

Zarif confirmed that he had sent the Twitter greetings. There were conflicting reports about whether Rouhani’s Twitter account is officially recognized by the president.

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edmund.sanders@latimes.com

Twitter: @edmundsanders

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