Rafsanjani Calls on Palestinians to Kill Westerners
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) _ Iranian Parliament Speaker Hashemi Rafsanjani said today that Palestinians should kill Americans and other Westerners in retaliation for attacks by the Israeli military in the occupied territories.
″If in retaliation for every Palestinian martyred in Palestine they will kill and execute, not inside Palestine, five Americans or Britons or Frenchmen, they (Israelis) could not continue these wrongs,″ Rafsanjani was quoted as saying by the official Islamic Republic News Agency, monitored in Nicosia.
″It is not hard to kill Americans or Frenchman. It is a bit difficult to kill (Israelis). But there are so many (Americans and Frenchman) everywhere in the world,″ he said.
At least 460 Palestinians and 20 Israelis have died in the 17-month-old Palestinian uprising against Israeli in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which Israel seized from Jordan and Egypt in the 1967 Middle East war.
IRNA said Rafsanjani spoke at a prayer sermon today in Tehran before huge rallies to mark the Iranian holiday in support of the Palestinian cause.
Television showed pictures of thousands of demonstrators. Excerpts of the speech also were carried by Tehran Radio.
″God knows there is a solution if you announce today that from now on you will threaten American interests throughout the world,″ Rafsanjani said.
IRNA said Rafsanjani also encouraged Palestinians to hijack planes to force Israel to release prisoners and to blow up factories in Western countries.
Rafsanjani criticized PLO leader Yasser Arafat for renouncing terrorism and recognizing Israel’s right to exist.
He also brushed aside Western reaction to his support for violence.
″Now they will start saying that so and so, as a man in charge, and as the speaker of Parliament has officially called for acts of terror ... But let them say it ... aren’t they saying it now?″
Soon after coming to power in the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran’s leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, set aside May 5 as Quds Day, referring to the Arabic name for Jerusalem. He has called on Islamic nations to free Jerusalem, Islam’s third holiest city after Mecca and Medina, from Israeli rule.
″Those who give $10 billion a year to preserve Israel and know what they are doing, is their blood worth anything?″ Rafsanjani said.
His remarks appeared to be a further deepening of the Iranian campaign against the West, launched Feb. 14 by Khomeini with a death sentence against British author Salman Rushdie for his book ″The Satanic Verses.″
Khomeini said Rushdie blasphemed Islam in the book and used his condemnation as a platform to attack slackening revolutionary zeal in Iran.
Western reaction to the death sentence, including 14 countries that called home their top envoys from Tehran, led Khomeini and other Iranian leaders to say ties with the West are unnecessary. Diplomatic relations with Britain were severed.
Rafsanjani was the leader of pragmatists seeking Western help to rebuild after the ruinous war with Iraq that ended in a cease-fire last year.
But his recent pronouncements have been harsh toward the West, including his statement last month that a spy ring that included Iranian naval officers giving military and other secrets to the United States had been broken.