Rahim-Mashaei, whose appointment as the Vice President has brought Mahmoud Ahmadinejad under fire, explained his remarks on Israel in an interview with IRNA released on Tuesday.
In 2008, Rahim-Mashaei’s comments on Israel unleashed a torrent of criticism in the country when he said Iran was a “friend of the Israeli people”. He later detached himself from his earlier stance, saying that his comments had been misinterpreted.
The controversial figure, who served as the head of the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization before receiving the elevation, however explained his remarks on Tuesday from a different perspective.
“What I said had nothing to do with the Israeli regime. I did not talk about the usurper Zionist regime. My remarks were about the people of the occupied lands and were in fact a psychological warfare against the Israeli regime,” he said.
“What I said was that this regime was in such mess that it no longer enjoyed international support,” he added, but insisted that he did not mean that Iran was a friend with Israelis.
He went on to defend his remarks by saying that he had just criticized Israel two days before his controversial remarks.
“I had said just two days before that, in a speech broadcast by the media, that the Zionist regime was a dead one but only no funeral procession had been conducted for it.”
President Ahmadinejad has faced harsh criticism from both his supporters and his opponents over the choice of Rahim-Mashaei as his right-hand man.
Despite stiff opposition to the appointment, the President told IRIB on Tuesday that Rahim-Mashaei will not give up the post as the vice president.