Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday said he hoped for a change of political regime for the people of arch-enemy Iran, in a message marking the Persian New Year, or Nowruz.
“Nowruz literally means ‘new day. And that’s my greatest wish to you, the Iranian people: that you will see a new day -– a day of freedom from the cruel Iranian regime,” he said in a video message in English.
Israel considers Iran an “existential threat” and the two countries have been at loggerheads since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled the Western-backed shah.
Bennett’s remarks also come as Israel has vehemently opposed the revival of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.
Read more: Iran nuclear deal means bloodbath in Middle East: Israeli PM
The deal granted the Islamic republic much-needed sanctions relief in return for curbs on its nuclear programme, but started unravelling after the US unilaterally pulled out in 2018.
On Friday, Bennett had appealed to the US not to remove Iran’s Revolutionary Guards from its blacklist of foreign terrorist organisations as part of a renewed deal.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps “is a terrorist organisation that has murdered thousands of people, including Americans”, he said in a joint statement with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.
US: Possible deal with Iran is close: “We have made significant progress, we are close to a possible deal, but we’re not there yet,” said State Department Spokesperson Ned Price. https://t.co/9JO5sEH70m JPost pic.twitter.com/Vr6lnkrWXf
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The United States had said on Wednesday that Washington and Tehran were close to agreement on restoring the 2015 accord.
“We are close to a possible deal, but we’re not there yet,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price. “We do think the remaining issues can be bridged.”
Sources close to the talks have said outstanding issues included Tehran’s demands for Washington to delist the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group.
Read more: Arab countries, West condemn powerful Irani attack on Israel facility
At a cabinet meeting Sunday, Bennett denounced what he said was a desire to sign the Iran deal “at almost any price, including saying that the largest terrorist organisation in the world is not a terrorist organisation”.
“That is too high a price to pay,” he added.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk