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Iran’s president-elect reaffirms policy towards Israel

10-07-2024

TEHRAN: President-elect Masoud Pezeshkian reaffirmed Iran’s anti-Israel stance on Monday, saying resistance movements across the region will not allow Israel’s “criminal policies” towards the Palestinians to continue.

“The Islamic Republic has always supported the resistance of the people of the region against the illegitimate Zionist regime,” Pezeshkian said in a message to Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah group.

The comments signaled no change in the regional policies of the incoming government under the relatively moderate Pezeshkian who defeated his hardline rival in last week’s runoff election.

“I am certain that the resistance movements in the region will not allow this regime to continue its warmongering and criminal policies against the oppressed people of Palestine and other nations of the region,” Iranian media quoted Pezeshkian as saying.

Shi’ite Muslim Hezbollah and the Palestinian Sunni Muslim Hamas are part of a group of Iranian-backed factions in the region known as the Axis of Resistance.

Israel did not immediately comment on Pezeshkian’s remarks.

Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza began after the Islamist militant group that governs the Palestinian enclave led an attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking about 250 hostage, according to Israeli tallies.

Iran’s president-elect, a relative moderate who beat a hardline rival to win election but who will likely be constrained in how much change he can effect, urged Iranians on Saturday to stick with him on “the difficult road ahead”.

Masoud Pezeshkian, the sole moderate in the original field of four candidates, won Friday’s run-off presidential vote against former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili. He will replace hardline President Ebrahim Raisi, who was killed in a helicopter crash in May.

Pezeshkian, a 69-year-old cardiac surgeon, has pledged to promote a pragmatic foreign policy, ease tensions over now-stalled negotiations with major powers to revive a 2015 nuclear pact and improve prospects for social liberalization and political pluralism.

However many Iranians are sceptical about his ability to fulfil his campaign promises as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, not the president, is the ultimate authority in the Islamic Republic.

“Dear people of Iran, the election is over, and this is just the beginning of our working together. A difficult road is ahead. It can only be smooth with your cooperation, empathy and trust,” Pezeshkian said in a post on social media.

“I extend my hand to you and swear on my honour that I will not abandon you on this path. Do not abandon me.”

After the voting result is confirmed by a hardline election watchdog body and approved by Khamenei, Pezeshkian will take the oath of office before parliament in Tehran in the coming days.

Turnout was almost 50% in Friday’s vote, following historically low turnout in the first round ballot on June 28.

Pezeshkian managed to win with a constituency – whose core was believed to be mostly the urban middle class and young – that had been widely disillusioned by years of security crackdowns that stifled any public dissent from Islamist orthodoxy.

One Iranian source said Pezeshkian enjoys an insider status and close relationship with theocratic Khamenei, and may be able to build bridges between factions to yield moderation, but not bring about fundamental changes that many Iranians yearn for. (Int’l News Desk)

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