Sebastian Kurz
Sebastian Kurz Reuters

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on Saturday condemned comments by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who called Israel a “cancerous tumor” and urged Muslim nations worldwide to unite and destroy Israel.

“I strongly condemn the unacceptable statements by President Rouhani regarding Israel. Questioning Israel's right to exist and calling for its destruction is absolutely unacceptable,” Kurz wrote on Twitter.

The chancellor added that Austria has a historic responsibility to fight anti-Semitism and support Israel. “The security of Israel is not negotiable for Austria,” he stressed.

This is not the first time that Kurz has spoken out against the calls in Iran for Israel’s destruction. In July, during a meeting in Vienna with Rouhani, Kurz said that calling for Israel’s destruction is “absolutely unacceptable”.

“The concerns of Israel have to be taken seriously. Austria is unconditionally committed to the security of Israel and its citizens,” he said.

The chancellor recently stressed in an interview on Israeli TV that “Israel's security is not negotiable for us, that is absolutely clear. Israel will always have full backing from Austria.”

Rouhani’s vitriol against Israel is nothing new, as Iranian leaders have continuously called for Israel’s destruction, including Rouhani who has been touted by some as a “moderate” president.

Earlier this year, Rouhani said that Israel “can never feel safe” because it is “oppressing the Palestinian nation”.

The Iranian president has in the past called Israel “illegitimate” and lamented that the crisis in Syria has made it difficult for Iran to focus on harming Israel.

Shortly after being elected in 2013, Rouhani called Israel an "old wound" that "should be removed". Iranian media later claimed that Rouhani’s remarks were distorted.