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Cleric lashes out at OIC failure to make full break with Israel

TEHRAN, Nov 17 (AFP) - A conservative Iranian cleric lashed out Friday at the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) for failing to make a definitive break with the state of Israel at last week's summit.

"The least that could have been expected was that they cut ties with Israel," said Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, Iran's former top justice, during a sermon at weekly prayers carried live on state radio.

"Breaking ties is not something very difficult," he said. "If you cut ties for a few days and prevent their crimes from continuing, then you can resume ties once again. Why are you closing your eyes?"

Iran handed over the rotating presidency of the 56-nation group to host Qatar at the summit, where Muslim countries failed to agree concrete action despite hard-hitting words against Israel's "massacres" of Palestinians.

Qatar closed its Israeli trade office under pressure over the recent bloodshed which has so far left more than 230 people dead, most of them Palestinians killed by Israeli fire.

But the OIC in its final statement said only that it "invites" member states to cut ties with the Jewish state.

Delegates said the term "requests" was watered down at the insistence of African countries, several of which have ties with the Jewish state and were opposed to a break.

Meanwhile Tehran was frustrated in its bid to hold an extrordinary meeting of OIC foreign ministers ahead of the summit to address the fate of the Palestinians.

Yazdi said that Palestinian youth have "become the game of Israeli hunters. They aim at their hearts, their eyes, their brains -- these youths with just stones in their hand to defend their homeland."

Iran does not recognise the state of Israel and has repeatedly given its backing to the latest intifada, or uprising, against the Israelis.

Foreign ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi said Thursday that Israel's "crimes have awakened the countries of the region to its power-thirsty goals and the kind of peace it wants to impose."


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