Iran's Khamenei denounces Israel-Palestinian peace talks
Tehran: Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Friday denounced the new direct peace talks between Israel and Palestinians and accused Washington of covering up the "crimes of the Zionist regime”.
In an address marking the feast of Eid-ul-Fitr at the end of Ramadan, the all-powerful Khamenei said the Palestinian cause was the "number one issue in the world of Islam" as the crowd chanted "Death to Israel! Death to America!"
"The Zionist regime, with utmost impudence, is continuing its cruelty on the oppressed Palestinian people, while in Washington there is a peace meeting. Peace with whom?" Khamenei said in a speech at Tehran university, broadcast live on state television.
"They (US) want to cover up the Palestinian issue and the crimes committed there with this meeting which is dubbed a peace meeting. They are just standing and watching with disregard and then they set up a peace meeting. What peace? Peace between who and who?"
Khamenei's remarks were his first reaction to renewed direct peace talks in the United States on September 02. Other top officials in Iran, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have already dismissed the initiative.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas met in Washington for their first round of direct talks after a 20-month hiatus.
They later agreed to meet twice a month in a bid to thrash out a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict within a year.
Iran, which supports the Islamist Hamas movement which controls the Gaza Strip, is implacably opposed to the peace talks, saying Abbas lacks legitimacy to represent all Palestinians.
In his speech, Khamenei blasted Israel, saying, "The Zionist occupier was standing against the Palestinians and insisting that they accept Judaisation."
"They want to impose this on our beloved Quds (Jerusalem) and our beloved land of the Palestinians. This is our main issue. We hope God will help Muslim nations and Muslim governments to do their duty against this very bitter move."
Khamenei praised the Palestinians, saying they were stronger now than 20 or 30 years ago.