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As the West tightened sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program this week, Israel’s President Shimon Peres appealed to Iranians to look beyond the current crisis.
AP’s Jerusalem bureau reports that Peres (88) delivered his message to the people of Iran during a ceremony marking the 63rd anniversary of the founding of Israel’s parliament.
"We were not born enemies and there is no need to live as enemies. Do not allow the flags of hostility to cast a dark shadow over your historic heritage," Peres said. "Your people are a sensitive people that aspire for friendship and peace, and not for conflicts and wars."
Peres accompanied his peaceful message to the Iranian people with a warning to the country’s authorities.
“Iran is not only a threat for Israel, it constitutes a real danger to humanity as a whole," Peres said. "The present Iranian regime is Imperialism-hungry, aspiring to be the region's supreme ruler," he said.
Earlier this week the US tightened its sanctions on Iran in an attempt to force it to abandon its nuclear enrichment program, which both Israel and the US believe is being used to build nuclear weapons. AFP reports that Iran responded to the sanctions with defiance.
In a televised address on Friday, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described Israel as “a cancerous tumor that must be cut out”, AFP says. “From now on we will support any group that will fight the Zionist regime,” the all-powerful Iranian leader reportedly said.
Meanwhile, NPR reported that Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations dismissed comments made by the Israeli Defence Minister, Ehud Barack, last month that if sanctions don’t work Israeli would consider military action on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
More from Global Post: Israel could unilaterally attack Iran, Israeli analysts warn
"I don't think that is going to happen," Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee is quoted as saying. “Iran is so strong and the consequences would be devastating for [Israel] and maybe for whoever helped them . . . There are wise enough people around the world to tell them not to do such a crazy thing," he said.