Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (L), next to former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, at the Islamic Unity Conference, Tehran, Iran, November 24, 2018

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has told the Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran that Israel is a “cancerous tumor in the region”.

In some of his harshest rhetoric since he became President in August 2013, Rouhani said “the West” created a “fake Israeli regime [which[ killed and displaced the historical nation of Palestine”.

He asserted, “Submission to America and the West means betraying Islamic ideals and Muslim generations, and laying red carpet for historic criminals.”

The tough talk of the President — who has been considered a centrist in Iran’s regime — pointed to concern over the Islamic Republic’s fragile economy and comprehensive US sanctions, which were imposed on November 5. He insisted:

We are not afraid of those who draw sword against Islam; hard days strengthen our faith. In times of war, there’s sometimes victory and sometimes failure, but if we stand for God, we will be the ultimate victor.

Rouhani chided the US relationship with Saudi Arabia after Donald Trump emphasized a Saudi declaration of putting $450 billion into the American economy:

Relying on foreigners is the biggest historical mistake; you gave a $450-billion gift to ensure your security? They said you were dairy cattle; at least do not accept open insults from the United States.

He said the door was open for better relations between Iran and Riyadh: “We are ready to support the people of Saudi Arabia against aggression, terrorism and plundering. We consider you and the peoples of the region our brothers.”