CAIRO, Egypt — A high-level Iranian cleric called for the shooting of the Israeli foreign minister in a speech before worshippers.
Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati said during Friday prayers that he wanted someone to shoot Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and denounced President-elect Barack Obama's search for a family pet.
"Every time the picture of this woman is shown, I really wish that somebody would expend a bullet on her," he said according to a recording of the sermon obtained by the Associated Press.
A copy of the speech was also translated and published by the Middle East Media Research Institute, a Middle Eastern press monitoring service.
Jannati is the head of the powerful hardline Iranian Council of Guardians which ensures the government remains true to the principles of the Islamic revolution.
Statements made at Friday prayers do not represent government foreign policy, neither do they constitute official statements by the state.
Jannati was hand-picked by Iran's top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, for his position and is seen by the reformist camp as one of the biggest opponents of democratic reforms in Iran. His council disqualified thousands of reformist candidates during parliamentary elections.
The cleric's comments come against a backdrop of Israel's attack on the Gaza Strip to stop Hamas rocket fire. More than 1,100 Palestinians have died in the 22 days of fighting.
Jannati also criticized Obama during his sermon.
"The world is on a slope of collapse. One is shocked when a president (Obama) sits, smiles and says 'my concern is to find a dog for my daughter.' Shame on you and those who voted for you," he said.
Middle East Media Research Institute reports that the cleric also denounced Islamic nations for their response to Gaza.
Referring to the Islamic countries' attitude to the Gaze events, he said: "Shame on the Islamic countries, that have neither any faith, nor any bravery, nor any manhood, nor the required legitimacy and popularity among their nations. Worst of all are Saudi Arabia and Egypt, one of which is a U.S. puppet regime and the other of which is an ally of Israel... The heads of those countries should fear their nations' upraising and the wrath of God that will threaten their reign."
Jannati said that both Egypt and Saudi Arabia had refrained from participating in the Arab League emergency meeting on the issue Gaza in order to break the official majority limit of that body, and that they had asked other countries not to attend.