Israeli attempts to "Judaize" Jerusalem will bring about its end, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday, saying Israel's occupation of Palestinian land was the most important topic in the world.
Speaking to a delegation to the Turkish-Palestinian Parliamentary Friendship Group, Ahmadinejad was quoted by Iranian state television that the "Zionists, who have no faith in religion or even God, now claim piety and intend to take away the Islamic identity of the Holy Quds."
"This ridiculous move is in fact the continuation of the colonialist polices of oppressors, which will not save the Zionist regime, but also take the regime closer to the endpoint of its existence, the Iranian president added.
Speaking of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Ahmadinejad was quoted by Iran's official news agency Iran as saying that the "issue of Palestine is the main issue in the region and the whole world and nobody can ignore it."
Iran has been embroiled in a standoff with the west over its contentious nuclear program, which Israel and the United States claim has military aspects.
Most recently, Iran and the United States have been involved in a heated verbal spat over an Iranian threat to close off the Straits of Hormuz – a waterway crucial to the distribution of Persian Gulf crude oil supplies – if the West sanctions its oil sector.
Earlier Tuesday, American officials rejected an Iranian demand that its naval vessels leave the Gulf, indicating that the threat itself was an indication that economic sanctions on Iran were beginning to take a toll on the Islamic Republic.
"These are regularly scheduled movements and in accordance with our long-standing commitments to the security and stability of the region and in support of ongoing operations," Commander Bill Speaks said in an emailed response to Reuters questions.
"The U.S. Navy operates under international maritime conventions to maintain a constant state of high vigilance in order to ensure the continued, safe flow of maritime traffic in waterways critical to global commerce," he said.
When asked later Tuesday if the U.S. intends to send naval reinforcements to the Gulf in response to Iranian talk of closing the Strait of Hormuz, Pentagon spokesperson George Little did not answer directly but said, "No one in this government seeks confrontation over the Strait of Hormuz. It's important to lower the temperature."
Also referring to Iranian threats on Tuesday, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the U.S. saw "these threats from Tehran as just increasing evidence that the international pressure is beginning to bite."
"They are feeling increasingly isolated and they are trying to divert the attention of their own public from the difficulties inside Iran, including the economic difficulties as a result of sanctions," Nuland told a news briefing.
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