Iran Softens Tune on Israel, But Why?
With the Iranian presidential elections only two months away, foreign policy issues are hotly debated in the crowded field of candidates, and a chorus of prominent voices is aiming to lower the temperature with Israel.
The rising softer tone may reflect a new elite consensus that a revised approach toward Israel is in the nation’s interests, in light of Tel Aviv’s powerful influence in Western capitals, Turkey’s normalization of relations with Israel, and the Arab world’s indifference toward the Palestinian problem, compared with Iran’s traditional “overcommitment”.
Leading the march toward a new Israel policy, former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who has expressed interest in joining the presidential race, has flatly declared that Iran is not “at war” with Israel. Calling for a non-confrontational foreign policy, Rafsanjani has criticized President Mahmud Ahmadinejad for inflammatory rhetoric that has backfired on Iran.
Echoing this sentiment, two other potential presidential elections, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, Tehran’s mayor, and Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, a conservative lawmaker who is close to the Supreme Leader, have also seen fit to criticize Ahmadinejad’s “denial of Holocaust” as a campaign issue.