Israel Responds after Iranian Leader Calls Israel Cancer, Saudi Normalization Doomed

Iran trying to derail Israel-Saudi peace. Illustrative official meeting in Iran. Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on Tuesday called for the eradication of the “cancer” Israel and predicted that nations that make peace with Israel will “lose” in a speech at an “international unity conference” in Tehran. Khamenei’s blistering rhetoric, reported by Iran’s Press TV, comes as a potential Saudi Arabia-Israel peace deal looks promising. Hinting at the Saudi-Israel efforts, Khamenei claimed that nations who normalize relations with Israel are “betting on a losing horse.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in his own comments on Tuesday, said Iran wouldn’t be able to stop peace with its neighbors. “While Khamenei’s terrorist regime exports ruin and destruction, Israel is advancing progress and peace,” said Netanyahu in comments published by Israel. “Just as Iran did not prevent us from achieving the Abraham Accords, neither will it prevent us from further expanding the circle of peace for the benefit of the citizens of Israel, the peoples of the region and all humanity.”

Khamenei didn’t stop at attacking potential peace with Israel. He went on to claim the Palestinian “anti-Zionism” movement is “more ready than ever.” He then expressed the hope that the Palestinian conflict with Israel would lead to the modern State of Israel being “eradicated” like a “cancer”. Iran is a key sponsor of multiple Palestinian terrorist organizations that have murdered Israeli civilians and launched thousands of rockets at Israeli cities.

The man primarily tasked with defending Israel from Iran, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, verbally fired back at Iran on Tuesday as well. “The murderous Iranian regime has already succeeded in tearing up countries it has taken over, and now it’s attempting to damage peace efforts, with its threats,” said Gallant in comments published by Israel.

“Iran will continue spreading terror and chaos. Israel will continue seeking security for its citizens and peace in the Middle East.”

Meanwhile, United States State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel dismissed the Iranian leader’s attack of an Israel-Saudi peace plan. “I will just say is that I’m not sure that we are really interested in the supreme leader’s point of view on this, when it comes to what we think could be a potentially transformative normalization agreement for the region,” Patel told reporters on Tuesday, according to a State Department press release.

He continued by noting that both Israel and Saudi Arabia already share points of agreement on Iran. He said the “nexus” of the bilateral relationships between the US and Israel and the US and Saudi Arabia is “the role that they play in countering and combating against the malign and destabilizing activities that the Iranian regime partakes in in the region.”

As for a potential Israel-Saudi peace accord, Patel said “many of the key elements of a pathway towards normalization are now on the table, and there is broad understanding of those elements.” He also noted that there is no formal framework for a deal yet. Said Patel, “There’s still lots of work to do, and we’re continuing to work that process.”

He said they believe continuing their support of “full normalization with Israel” is “part of our efforts to advance a more peaceful, secure, and prosperous and stable Middle East region,” as they continue to talk to regional partners on making more progress. “And that’s what we’re going to continue to stay focused on.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, October 3, 2023)

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