Iran's semiofficial ISNA news agency has said that controversial remarks about Israel made by president-elect Hasan Rouhani were misquoted. The comments had sparked condemnation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Rouhani said Friday in comments broadcast on Iran's state-run Press TV that the Israeli occupation of Palestine had inflicted a "wound" on the Muslim world.
In the widely reported initial remarks Rouhani had said that Israel was "an old wound that must be eliminated." ISNA later corrected its initial report.
Press TV said the comments had been "distorted" and ran a video clip of Rouhani's actual comments.
"In our region, there's been a wound for years on the body of the Muslim world under the shadow of the occupation of the holy land of Palestine and the beloved Al-Quds [Jerusalem]," Rouhani said.
Rouhani, who is set to be inaugurated this weekend, had made the remarks to journalists at a rally marking Iran's annual Al-Quds Day in support of the Palestinians.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had condemned the initial remarks, saying that they showed the "true colors" of Rouhani, a relatively moderate cleric. "This is what the man thinks and it is the action plan of the Iranian regime," Netanyahu said.
Iran has not recognized Israel since the 1979 revolution. The country's outgoing president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, frequently used controversially harsh words to criticize Israel and its policies, particularly its treatment of the Palestinians.
Iran is currently under crippling sanctions prompted by suspicions it is trying to develop a nuclear weapon. The US has led the charge in accusing Tehran of disguising its nuclear program as a civilian power endeavor, while the Iranian government has said the project is for purely peaceful purposes.
dr/hc (dpa, Reuters, AP)