Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday criticized Iranian President Hassan Rowhani’s speech at the U.N. General Assembly, describing it as “cynical” and “full of hypocrisy.”
The comments came after Rowhani toned down his country’s previous episodes of anti-Israel rhetoric, offering up negotiations with the U.S. and its allies over the disputed nuclear program.
Rowhani even went a step further in an interview with CNN airing on Wednesday, in which he condemned the Holocaust as “reprehensible.”
“Any crime that happens in history against humanity, including the crime the Nazis created toward the Jews, is reprehensible and condemnable,” the newly elected leader told CNN.
“Whatever criminality they committed against the Jews we condemn. The taking of human life is contemptible,” he said, according to the US broadcaster’s translation.
“It makes no difference whether that life is Christian, Jewish or Muslim. For us it is the same,” added Rowhani, who gave his first speech at the United Nations General Assembly earlier Tuesday.
In the General Assembly speech, Rowhani said that his country posed no threat and was not pursuing nuclear weapons.
But Netanyahu was not convinced.
“As expected, this was a cynical speech that was full of hypocrisy,” said the Israeli PM, according to Agence France-Presse.
“Rowhani spoke of human rights even as Iranian forces are participating in the large-scale slaughter of innocent civilians in Syria,” he said in a statement issued early Wednesday in Jerusalem.
Netanyahu also accused Rowhani of condemning “terrorism even as the Iranian regime is using terrorism in dozens of countries around the world.”
He took issue with Rowhani for reaffirming Tehran’s position that its nuclear drive is “exclusively peaceful.”
“This is exactly Iran’s strategy -- to talk and play for time in order to advance its ability to achieve nuclear weapons. Rowhani knows this well,” charged Netanyahu.
“The international community must test Iran not by its words but by its actions,” added Netanyahu, who will address the U.N. General Assembly next week.
He has refused to rule out a military strike against Iran’s contested nuclear program.