Both Israel and Iran participated in the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last week, and many hoped the event would give occasion for a mending of relations, or at least a start in that direction.
But, to the great frustration of Israeli leaders, that was far from being the case.
Israeli President Shimon Peres told reporters in Davos that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's speech to the forum on Thursday was smooth, but was also highly deceptive, and, for Israel, a great disappointment.
"The most significant remarks were the ones [Rouhani] didn't make - he didn't express support for peace in the Middle East," said Peres. "He is the only leader I know who didn't say clearly the time has come to make peace between Israel and the Arabs. He excluded the reference to peace and when he was asked if his vision included all countries he said it included only the ones that Iran will accept."
"As far as Israel is concerned," continued Peres, "we are ready to make peace with the Iranian people. Historically, they have never been our enemies. We extend our hand for peace, including to the Iranian people, but today was a great occasion that was missed."
Peres also noted that if Rouhani's regime is truly not seeking nuclear weapons, then the Iranian could have done much to reduce tension in the region by simply announcing that "he will stop building long-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads."
What happened instead was precisely as Israeli leaders feared: Rouhani and Iran entered the forum as conquering heroes that had compelled the international community to pander to them, while giving up very little in return.
Case in point: in a pre-forum interview with CNN, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif pointed out that the Iran nuclear deal reached in Geneva a few months earlier had not required the Islamic Republic to dismantle a single piece of its nuclear program.
"If you find a single, a single word, that even closely resembles dismantling or could be defined as dismantling in the entire text, then I would take back my comment," said Zarif. "We are not dismantling any centrifuges, we’re not dismantling any equipment, we’re simply not producing, not enriching [uranium] over 5%."
Of course, that means Iran can just as easily turn the nuclear program back on at any given time.
Zarif said the Obama Administration had tried to portray the situation differently, to give the impression that it had convinced Iran to dismantle its nuclear program.
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