Rohani's Israel remark shows his 'true face': Netanyahu

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticised anti-Israeli comments on Friday by Iranian president-elect Hassan Rohani, saying he was showing his true colours.

"The true face of Rohani has been revealed earlier than expected," Mr Netanyahu said in a statement.

"Even if the Iranians work to deny these comments, this is what the man thinks and reflects the regime's plans," he said.

Rohani said Israel was a foreign body that must be removed, and cast doubt on efforts to revive peace talks with the Palestinians.

"The Zionist regime is a wound inflicted for years on the body of the Muslim world that must be cleansed," Rohani told reporters attending annual Quds Day rallies, in remarks reported by media.

His comments come a day before Rohani, a moderate cleric by the standards of Iran's political system, is to assume the country's highest elected office.

"The president's remarks should awake some of the world from its illusion" about Rohani, Netanyahu continued.

"The president has changed in Iran but the goal of the regime remains to build a nuclear weapon to threaten Israel, the Middle East and peace and security throughout the world.

"We must not let a country that threatens Israel with destruction possess a weapon of mass destruction," he railed.

Iran's rejection of Israel as a state has been an unfaltering cornerstone of its foreign policy since the 1979 birth of the Islamic republic.

In an allusion to fresh peace talks between the Jewish state and the Palestinian Authority, Rohani also charged that "Israel is continuing with its aggressive nature against the backdrop of an excuse for compromise." The talks are providing the Israelis with "a good opportunity to project a peaceful appearance," he said.