Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is calling Israel a "germ of corruption" that will be "removed soon." The comments were posted Wednesday on his presidential Web site. They appear to be part of an effort to defuse criticism by hard-liners over recent remarks made by a high-level official. Last week, Iranian media quoted Vice President Esfandiar Rahim Mashai as saying Iranians were "friends of all people in the world - even Israelis." The comments were rare from a government official in Iran. They sparked domestic criticism of Mashai, with some officials calling for his resignation.