Rafsanjani Says Iran ‘Not at War With Israel’

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Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani spoke to reporters yesterday at the Expediency Council building. The Expediency Council is an advisory body which he heads. Rafsanjani spoke about Iran’s foreign policy and relation to Israel, his predictions about Iran’s current crisis and his potential candidacy.

Rafsanjani said Iran needs to “repair its foreign policy.” He added, “We are not at war with Israel,” though he elaborated “if the Arab countries are at war with them, we’ll help them.” Iranian authorities have said they would accept agreements the Palestinians make with Israel but have also said that they would support any group that fights them.

The hard-line Raja News website responded harshly to Rafsanjani’s statements on Israel. They wrote, somewhat sarcastically, that “it doesn’t appear that Hashemi, who accompanied and wrote the historiography of Ayatollah Khomeini, has forgotten his (Khomeini’s) approach towards the fake Israeli regime, as Khomeini said toward his regime ‘Israel must be erased from the scene.’” In fact, the title of the article compares the two statements by presenting Khomeini’s comments on top, with Rafsanjani’s on bottom.

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Raja also added: “Yet, maybe these statements from Hashemi are not that unexpected due to this support of those who chanted ‘neither Gaza nor Lebanon’ during the 2009 sedition.” The chant “neither Gaza nor Lebanon, my life for Iran” became popular during the 2009 postelection protests. It is criticism aimed at the Iranian government’s support and attention toward Hezbollah and Hamas in favor of Iranian domestic issues.

Rafsanjani also highlighted his approach to foreign policy when he had considerably more influence in the first decade of the revolution. “During the war it was my recommendation to accept the resolution to end the war,” he said. It’s believed that it was Rafsanjani who persuaded Ayatollah Khomeini to accept the UN cease-fire with Iraq which ended one of the deadliest wars of the 20th century.

Although he was the parliament speaker during the war years he was a close confidant and adviser to Khomeini. Some hard-liners in Iran have criticized Rafsanjani for his advice to Khomeini to end the war.

Rafsanjani appeared to be answering his critics when he said that “if the resolution wasn’t signed Tabriz, Tehran, and Esfahan (three of Iran’s largest cities) would have been attacked with chemical weapons from airplanes borrowed from France and Russia and we would have had many casualties.”

He also highlighted his actions when he was president and Saddam attacked Kuwait. “After Saddam invaded Kuwait some gentlemen said let’s go support Saddam. But we didn’t support Saddam and we even accepted Kuwaiti refugees and the world trusted us and the sanctions were lifted,” he said.

Rafsanjani also said that in 2008 he spoke with a commission that approached him to address his problems with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He said he “spoke for 2½ hours where he listed all the problems of yesterday, today and tomorrow.” He claimed that these meetings were taped but he will not reveal them for the sake of “unity.”

As far as the presidential elections, Rafsanjani said: “There is no need for me to run. Of course I’m not saying I’m not running. But I’m saying it’s not necessary for an 80 year old man to run.”