Officials in the United States condemned on Thursday the extremely hateful remarks against Israel made by Iran’s supreme leader, but not before Israeli officials expressed disappointment at the fact that the U.S. had taken so long to do so.
In an interview on CNN, Samantha Power, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, condemned what she described as Khamenei's "abhorrent” comments.
"Let me, obviously, condemn the comments of the Ayatollah, which are abhorrent," she said.
"What I will say is that we have decades of mistrust, partly on the basis of comments like this, partly on the basis of the continued steady progress toward a nuclear weapon. And that's why we're in the negotiations in the first place, right, is to ensure that a regime like that does not acquire a nuclear weapon, pose a threat not only to Israel but to the broader region and to mankind," added Power.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also addressed the comments on Thursday, telling the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, "Well, obviously we disagree with it profoundly.”
He added, "It's inflammatory and it's unnecessary, and I think at this moment, when we are trying to negotiate and figure out what can and can't be achieved, the last thing we need are names back and forth.”
On Wednesday, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that Israel is a "regime doomed to collapse." His threats come as the latest round of talks over Iran's nuclear weapons program is being held in Geneva.
“The Zionist regime (Israel) is a regime whose pillars are extremely shaky and is doomed to collapse," he said, adding that Israel was "the rabid dog of the region" and that it poses a threat to the world, not Iran.
Asked about the comments later in the day, BuzzFeed reported, a senior U.S. official stopped short of a condemnation.
“Of course I don’t ever like it when people use rhetoric that in any way talks about the U.S. in ways that I find very uncomfortable and not warranted whatsoever,” the official told reporters in Geneva, where talks with Iran about its nuclear program resumed Wednesday.
The American failure to quickly condemn Khamenei’s remarks raised the ire of Israeli lawmakers from both the coalition and the opposition.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (Likud-Yisrael Beytenu) said the comments were an indication that Iran was not interested in reaching a peaceful settlement regarding its nuclear program.
"The speech by Khamenei shows Iran’s real face, not the misrepresentation shown by [Iranian President Hassan] Rouhani and his people,” said Liberman, according to Israeli website The Post.
“Anyone who speaks of the Jews in terms of Goebbels and Hitler certainly does not intend to achieve a peaceful nuclear program - for the attention of the representatives of six world powers negotiating in Geneva,” he added.
MK Hilik Bar (Labor) sent a letter to Kerry and the European Union’s Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton, asking them to condemn Khamenei’s remarks.
“Khamenei's words are clearly reminiscent of racist sayings made by dark, dictatorial regimes such as the Nazis. I was disappointed to discover that no strong condemnation nor any official condemnation has been sounded, neither from the United States nor the European Union,” wrote Bar.
"I urge you to issue a condemnation and stand against these dark and racist statements coming out of Iran, and it would be better if you do sooner rather than later," he added.
Unlike the U.S., France was quick to condemn Khamenei’s comments.
"Khamenei's comments are unacceptable and complicate negotiations," Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, a spokeswoman on behalf of the French government, told reporters on Wednesday, hours after the comments were made.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday said that Khamenei’s comments were “the real Iran.”