07:17 GMT14 June 2021
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    Raging tensions between Israelis and Palestinians spilled over into violence in Israel and the West Bank and a conflagration between Tel Aviv and militants in Gaza this month, with the conflict sparked by an anticipated Supreme Court ruling to evict Palestinian families from a Jerusalem neighbourhood and the police occupation of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

    Tehran is demanding that the international community recognise Israel's “criminal” behaviour as “genocide,” and is calling on other countries and organisations to end their “unacceptable neutrality” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh has said.

    “Iran believes that the criminal acts of the occupying regime amount to a crime against humanity and should be recognised as genocide,” the spokesman said, speaking to reporters at a press briefing on Monday, his remarks cited by the FARS news agency.

    “Iran calls on governments and responsible international organisations to end their unacceptable neutrality towards the aggressor,” he added added, calling on the United Nations Security Council to “fulfil its inherent mission and duty” and pressure Tel Aviv to “end its aggression.”

    The spokesman reiterated that Iran “strongly condemns the new round of brutal aggression by the Zionist regime” against Palestinians, and went on to blast Western nations for supporting Israel, which he said has led to an intensification of its destructive behaviour.

    He added that Iran considers Palestinians to “have an inherent and natural right to defend themselves,” and that the “reclamation” of their rights is “a global responsibility.”

    Khatibzadeh went on to say that there is only one possible “just solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: “a referendum with the participation of all original Palestinians, Muslims, Christians and Jews for the right to self-determination.”

    The spokesman is not the only Iranian official to use the term “genocide” to refer to the situation in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. On Sunday, at an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif urged OIC members to recognise Israeli actions as “genocide and crimes against humanity,” and asked member states to “extend the jurisdiction of their national tribunals to include the prosecution of criminals perpetrating war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity in the Palestinian occupied territories.”

    Also on Sunday, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, speaker of Iran’s parliament, denounced Israel as the “chief evil” in the Middle East and called on regional leaders to “assist the resistance forces as soon as possible to prevent a genocide” against Palestinians.

    The “genocide” claims are not new, and have been thrown about by politicians from both countries for years. Last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would “never allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons to carry out genocide against Israel.” Before that, he compared Iran to Nazi Germany and suggested that Tehran was “openly declaring every day that it wants to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth.”

    Iranian officials have indeed said repeatedly that they hope to see Israel be “eliminated” or “vanish from the page of time,” but indicated that they expect this process to happen in a manner similar to the collapse of the regime of the Shah in Iran, or via a referendum, and not as a result of military action by Iran or any other Muslim nation.

    Iran and Israel have had no diplomatic relations to speak of since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and the overthrow of the pro-US, pro-Israel regime of the Shah. The two countries have clashed repeatedly in cyberspace, regional proxy conflicts, and recently, attacks on one another’s commercial shipping. Iran has accused Israel of assassinating nearly a dozen of its nuclear scientists, supposedly over Tehran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. Iranian authorities have stressed that the country’s nuclear programme is peaceful, and have asked the international community to investigate Israel’s suspected nuclear arsenal, which Tel Aviv neither confirms nor denies exists.

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