Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi denounces any attempts by regional countries to normalize relations with its arch-enemy Israel as “reactionary and regressive.”
The remarks come amid ongoing US-brokered negotiations between Israel and Saudi Arabia to establish formal ties, with the United States saying on Friday that the two countries are moving towards the outline of a deal.
“Normalizing relations with the Zionist regime is a reactionary and regressive move by any government in the Islamic world,” Raisi says during an international Islamic conference held in Tehran dedicated to "Muslim unity."
Raisi further labels any normalization attempt as the “foreigners’ desire,” while stating that “surrender and compromise” regarding Israel are not on the table.
“The only option for all the fighters in the occupied land and the Islamic world is to resist and stand against the enemies,” he says, reiterating Iran’s position that Jerusalem must be “liberated.”
Raisi also referred to the normalization negotiations between Saudi Arabia and Israel in his speech at the annual gathering of the United Nations General Assembly in New York about a week and a half ago. The Iranian president then warned that a possible normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia would constitute a betrayal of the Palestinians. "This will be a stab in the back of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian resistance," Raisi told the UNGA.
In March, Iran and Saudi Arabia announced the renewal of diplomatic relations, a dramatic step after years of disconnection between the two countries - whose relations were terminated in January 2016. About six months later, they also reopened their embassies.
On Tuesday, it was reported that Saudi Arabia is determined to achieve a military agreement that would obligate the US to defend the kingdom in exchange for normalization with Israel. Three regional officials familiar with the details of the talks said that in return Saudi Arabia would not fail the deal even if Israel did not offer major concessions to the Palestinians.
The sources added that the Palestinians can win concessions from Israel - but that Saudi Arabia will not wait for them. "The normalization will be between Israel and Saudi Arabia - and if the Palestinians object, the kingdom will continue on its way," one of the sources told Reuters. "Saudi Arabia supports a peace plan for the Palestinians, but this time it wanted something for itself and not just for them."