Ahmadinejad: Israel Is a Germ of Corruption That Will Be Removed

Remark appears to be bid to defuse hard-liner criticism over recent pro-Israel comments by Iran VP.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is calling Israel a germ of corruption that will be removed soon in comments posted Wednesday on his presidential Web site.

The post appears to be part of an effort to defuse criticism by hard-liners over recent remarks made by a high-level official, who argued that Iran was a friend of Israel.

Last week, Iranian media quoted the country's Vice President Esfandiar Rahim Mashai as saying Iran were friends of all people in the world - even Israelis.

The comments were rare from a government official in Iran, whose president regularly calls for Israel's destruction. They sparked domestic criticism of Mashai, with some officials calling for his resignation.

In 2005, Ahmadinejad said he believed Israel should be wiped off the map.

On Tuesday, former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy told an American sponsored Arab satellite television network that Ahmadinejad's incendiary anti-Israel outbursts have united the international community against his country, thus serving a key Israeli interest.

"Ahmadinejad is our greatest gift," Halevy told the Arab language television network Al-Hurra. "We couldn't carry out a better operation at the Mossad than to put a guy like Ahmadinejad in power in Iran."

Halevy added that the Iranian president's extremist statements "proved to everyone that Iran of today is an Iran that is impossible to live with. [Ahmadinejad] unites the entire world against Iran."