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TEHRAN, Hundreds of thousands of Iranians held massive rallies nationwide on Friday to mark the Quds (Jerusalem) Day to support the Palestinians, while denouncing the policies of Israel and the United States.

The protesters chanted anti-Israeli and anti-U.S. slogans and carried banners, which condemned Israel's continued occupation of Palestinian lands, Israel's killing of Gaza protesters and the U.S. moving its embassy in Israel to the disputed holy city of Jerusalem, which is revered by Jews, Muslims and Christians.

Israel took over East Jerusalem in 1967 and later announced the whole united city as its eternal capital, while the Palestinians hope to establish a future independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Many Iranian senior government, legislative and military officials participated in the rallies, which were held in about 900 cities.

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said in an address to the rally in Tehran that the upcoming U.S. peace plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, known as "the deal of the century," aims to obliterate the Palestinian cause.

The U.S. plan "is nothing but an illusion," he said.

Larijani said that under the new plan, the U.S. and Israel do not want the Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland, while continuing the Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank.

They want to give money to Palestinians so that they will relinquish their rights to return to their motherland, but the Palestinians have been fighting for 70 years because their problem is not about money, Larijani said.

In a statement issued at the end of the rallies, Iranian demonstrators voiced their support for the "oppressed" nation of Palestine and for the liberation of Jerusalem from Israeli occupation.

"We regard the liberation of the holy Quds and the freedom of the oppressed people of Palestine from the Zionist occupiers' domination and the struggle for the elimination of the cancerous tumor of Israel, as the supreme cause of the Islamic Revolution," the statement was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency.

The statement also condemned the U.S. peace plan for Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a plot to continue "the heinous crimes of Israel and violate the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people."

The only way to settle the issue of Palestine will be the return of all displaced Palestinians from around the world to their motherland and holding a free referendum to decide the fate of their country, the statement said.

It also condemned the U.S. and Saudi Arabian governments for their support for the Israel and adopting hostile attitude toward the Iranian nation.

Mohammad Hossein Baqeri, chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces, said Friday that the recent move by the U.S. to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would facilitate the "collapse of Israel."

Baqeri pointed to the high turnout in the demonstrations, which he said have made the unity of Muslims "more visible".

Hossein Salami, lieutenant commander of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), on Friday blamed the U.S. for Israel's continued oppression against the Palestinians.

"It has been 70 years that a poisonous dagger (Israel) has gone deep into the flank of the Islamic Ummah (community), and all the tragedies of the Islamic world are due to the existence of the fake and rootless... regime of Israel," Salami said.

Israel has caused the Palestinian nation to be displaced from their motherland, he said, adding that even those Palestinians who stay in their territory have been imprisoned, besieged and subject to the most severe attacks by Israel.

The IRGC commander blasted the West's support for the Israeli "crimes" against Palestinians.

The U.S. policies are biased to protect the interests of the "Zionist regime of Israel," Salami said, citing that there is "a deep-rooted ideological bond" between the U.S. and Israel as the "two dangerous entities of the world".

The Quds Day, an annual event that falls on June 8 this year, is observed on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Iran, along with several Arab countries.


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