Officials in Jerusalem were unruffled by Iran’s announcement this week that Israel is not being invited to the inauguration of president-elect Hasan Rouhani.
“We’re not taking it personally,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Paul Hirschson told The Times of Israel Thursday. “What is perhaps a little pathetic is that the Iranians felt the need to tell the whole world that they won’t be tainted by our presence. That says more about them than about us.”
On Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Araqchi blithely declared that Tehran had invited leaders of all countries to the August 4 event, except those of the United States and Israel.
“For the first time after [the] Islamic Revolution victory it is decided to invite foreign officials for the ceremony,” Araqchi said, according to the Iranian Students’ News Agency. “We have invited all. The letter of invitation includes all countries, except the US and [the] Zionist regime [because] we do not recognize the latter as a country.”
Diplomatic ties between Jerusalem and Tehran ended formally after the Islamic Revolution in 1979, “so it’s not really a surprise that they’re not inviting us to official events in Iran,” Hirschson said. “At some point in the future we will have diplomatic relations again, and then we will invite them and they will invite us.”
Yigal Palmor, anotherForeign Ministry spokesman, said, “If we can’t go to Iran, we will bring Iranians over here.” He was apparently referring to the visit earlier this month of prominent Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf, who attended the Jerusalem Film Festival.
Still, the US and Israel won’t be the only nations missing Rouhani’s inauguration. According to the Guardian newspaper, Great Britain will not send any official representation to the event due to the European Union position that only Tehran-based diplomats attend. The British embassy in Iran has been closed since November 2011, when demonstrators stormed and vandalized the building to protest sanctions London had imposed on the regime.
However, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said last week that London is “ready to improve our relations on a step-by-step basis” if Tehran showed goodwill in the nuclear question.
The US cut all relations with Iran in 1980, as a direct result of the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, during which Islamists held more than 50 Americans for 444 days in the embassy building. Last year, Canada followed suit and cut diplomatic relations with Tehran.
Meanwhile, Israeli leaders continue to call for an escalation of sanctions against Iran.
“Iran must stop all enrichment. It must remove all the enriched nuclear material from its territory. It must shut down the illicit nuclear facility in Qom. And all work on plutonium production must cease,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday in Jerusalem. “I believe, Mr. Minister, that the pressure on Iran must increase because that’s the only way we’ll see a real change in Iran’s behavior.”
Also on Wednesday, International Relations and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz met with Hague in London, telling the British foreign secretary that Rouhani “is laughing all the way to the bomb.” The only way to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon is to increase sanctions and combine them with “a substantial military threat.”