VP Resists Pressure to Quit over Israel

A04845575.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Vice-President Esfandyar Rahim Mashayee vowed on Wednesday to remain at his post despite pressure to quit over his remark that Iranians are “friends with Israelis”.

“A servant of the people never resigns,” Mashayee said.

Mashayee’s remark about Iran’s arch foe last month has sparked fury among officials and clerics, with more than 200 MPs urging Ahmadinejad to take action against his confidant.

“It is not appropriate that the president entrust an important governmental post to a man … who does not have the courage to admit to his mistake and apologize,” the Iranian students news agency quoted Grand Ayatollah Hossein Nuri Hamedani as saying.

Ahmad Salek, spokesman of the Combatant Clergy Association, said, “It is intolerable for the people that an Iranian vice president speaks of friendship with Israelis.”

He called on Mashayee to “resign as quickly as possible,” MNA reported.

Ahmadinejad, who is known for his tough and inflexible stand against the Zionist regime, has so far ignored the criticism of his ally, who is vice president for cultural heritage, handicrafts and tourism.

Meantime, Mashayee said his comments about friendship with Israelis and Americans have been misinterpreted and taken out of the context.

Trying to clarify his controversial statements that Iran is “friends with the Israeli people”, Mashayee said the media had misquoted him, adding that by Israelis he meant Palestinians and certainly not the Zionists, press tv reported.

Mashayee’s remarks could have been accepted had he not confirmed and repeated his earlier pro-Israeli statements.

His remarks consequently drew harsh criticism from different circles inside Iran, calling for his immediate resignation.

“I would reiterate over and over that we are friends with all the people in the world, including the Israeli and the American people,” Mashayee insisted.

He was summoned to the parliament following his reaffirmation of the remarks, to explain what he really meant by friendship with Israelis.

“Israel is reminiscent of racism, inhumanity and violence,” Mashayee said in a letter to a group of parliamentarians after he came under attack by some 200 lawmakers.

“I also believe that there will be no place for the word Israel in Iran’s culture,” the letter read.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has never recognized Israel and considers it an illegitimate regime which established itself through usurpation, aggression and massacre of the Palestinian nation.

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