Khamenei took swipes at Israel and France during a speech to tens of thousands of volunteer Basij militiamen in Tehran, broadcast live on Iran’s Press TV. “Zionist officials cannot be called humans, they are like animals, some of them,” said Khamenei. “The Israeli regime is doomed to failure and annihilation,” he said. The Iranian leader referred to the "Zionist regime" as the "rabid dog of the region."
Jerusalem awaited condemnation of the comments from senior officials of the states taking part in nuclear talks with Iran in Geneva, but such a reaction was not forthcoming. The P5+1 group of world powers negotiating with Iran consists of the US, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany.
"We knew the Americans were eager, even more so than the Iranians themselves, to reach an intermediate deal in Geneva, but we did not estimate to how great an extent," a senior official in Jerusalem told The Jerusalem Post's Hebrew-language sister publication Sof Hashavua Magazine.
The official added that "the West is choosing not to direct its gaze at Khamenei, who is the true face of Iran and its de facto ruler, and to accept the "pretty face" of Iran's new diplomacy instead. The comments by the supreme leader, who cursed America and France at the height of the talks, constitute spitting in the face of the enlightened world, not just Israel, but the world remains silent, thinking it is rain, and continues to talk with this leader's emissaries, who are masters of deception. They then blame us for making comparisons to the 1930s."
An official in the US delegation to the Geneva talks skirted questions Thursday from journalists on the issue, saying, "Naturally, there are still expressions of the deep lack of trust between us and the Iranians - which stem from more than three decades of severed relations. We are trying to reach an agreement whose goal is to peacefully prevent the Iranian regime from obtaining nuclear weapons, while dealing with this atmosphere, and it is not easy."
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who flew to Russia on Wednesday to appeal for tougher terms, said Khamenei's comments showed Iran had not changed since so-called moderate Hassan Rouhani was elected as president in June.
"He called Jews 'rabid dogs' and said that they were not human. The public responded to him with calls of 'Death to America! Death to Israel!' Doesn't this sound familiar to you? This is the real Iran! We are not confused. They must not have nuclear weapons. And I promise you that they will not have nuclear weapons," the premier said.
Jpost.com staff and Reuters contributed to this report.