BY: Follow @Kredo0
VIENNA—Millions of Iranians took to the streets on Friday to rally against the United States and Israel, burning the flags of both countries and chanting, “Death to Israel,” according to multiple regional reports.
Iranians marched across the country in support of Quds Day, an annual anti-Israel, anti-American holiday in which citizens lend their support for Palestinian violence against the Jewish state.
Hoards of Iranians could be seen in the streets in cities across the country. They waved signs advocating the destruction of Israel and America and also rallied in support of the Palestinians seizing Jerusalem.
“Demonstrators chant[ed] slogans in condemnation of the Zionists’ crimes in the occupied Palestinian lands,” Iran’s state-controlled Fars News Agency reported.
Chants of “Down with the U.S.” and “Down with Israel” could also be heard echoing through the streets, according to Fars.
The fierce anti-Western demonstration came as U.S. and Iranian negotiators work around the clock in Vienna to finalize an agreement aimed at curbing Iran’s contested nuclear program.
Earlier in the week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani celebrated Quds Day by calling on his nation to “shout its hatred for the Zionists.”
“People will tell the world on the Quds Day that the Muslim nations will never forget Palestine and occupation of this territory,” Rouhani was quoted as saying on state-run television by the Fars News Agency.
Rouhani went on to state “that the Iranian nation will shout its hatred for the Zionists on the Quds Day,” according to Fars’ report.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry—the head of which has been meeting one-on-one with Kerry to finalize a nuclear deal—said in a statement that Iran would sponsor Palestinian violence against Israel.
“Reaching this goal” of retaking Jerusalem from the Israelis “needs confronting the Zionist regime’s aggression and expansionism and empowerment of Palestinians to resist against such measures, since resistance is the only way to restore their rights and free the Palestinian territories and the Holy Quds,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry said in its statement.
Meanwhile, as negotiators inch closer to a deal, reports have emerged suggesting that the United States backed out of a final draft agreement in order to pursue a tougher line on Iran.
This move has infuriated Iranian officials, who leaked details of the closed-door negotiations to the press.
On Friday, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif issued an ultimatum to the United States: Either lift economic sanctions on Tehran or there is no deal.
“We have reached a stage now that the other side should decide if it is seeking an agreement or pressure; we have said many times that agreement and pressure cannot come together and one of them should be chosen,” Zarif was quoted as saying on Friday.
However, Zarif made clear that he would not preemptively leave the negotiations.
Diplomats have blown through three self-imposed deadlines so far. The talks are expected to continue through the weekend, though U.S. officials have been mum on exact details.