Iranian officials snub Germans over demand to recognize Israel

Germany has emphasized it could not move ahead with full normalization of ties with Iran until the Islamic Republic agreed to recognize Israel.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani cancelled their meetings with German Vice-Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel after he said there can be no normal ties with Tehran unless it accepts the existence of the Jewish state.

Gabriel told Der Spiegel before his visit to the Islamic Republic earlier this week that Germany could not move ahead with full normalization of ties until the Iranian government agreed to recognize Israel.

Gabriel made similar remarks in July 2015 when he warned at the start of a three-day visit to Tehran that Berlin could not accept Iran’s questioning of Israel’s right to exist, and that such attitudes could harm business relations between the two countries.

He also said Germany would be willing to mediate between the two enemies.

His statement echoes previous comments by Chancellor Angela Merkel. Several weeks ago, in a letter to German parliamentarian Volker Beck, head of the German-Israeli Parliamentary Friendship Group, Merkel wrote that “there cannot be normalized, complete relations with Iran so long as Iran does not recognize Israel’s right to exist.”

Gabriel did meet with other senior Iranian officials during his two-day trip, including the economy minister.

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Iran’s Judiciary Chief Sadeq Amoli Larijani said the foreign ministry should have placed a ban on his visit to Tehran.

“The German economy minister has made incorrect and illogical comments and said that if Iran wants to open way for trade interactions, it should recognize Israel. Apparently, he is asleep and doesn’t know that Iran has tolerated abundant pressures for the sake of its beliefs for over 30 years to resist such demands,” Larijani said, addressing the high-ranking judiciary officials in Tehran on Monday, Iran’s Fars news reported.

Iranian Government Spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakht claimed that Gabriel had dismissed media reports quoting him as saying that improvement of ties with Iran would depend on its recognition of Israel.

“When Gabriel came to Iran, I asked him why he has said such a thing while he is one of the pioneering officials who came to Iran after the nuclear deal. He clearly said that they (the media) had distorted his comments. He said that he has come to Iran now without any precondition and that they respect Iran’s views.”

The Iranian government spokesman once again reiterated that Tehran would never recognize Israel, adding that “no country can set a precondition for us. We live with our beliefs.”

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Iran last week rejected the demand that it recognize Israel as a precondition for full diplomatic ties.

Gabriel was among the first Western leaders to lead a delegation, with some 120 business representatives and dozens of journalists, to Tehran following the removal of nuclear-related sanctions. Germany seeks to reclaim its former position as one of Iran’s major trading partners.

By: World Israel News Staff