After his surprise election win in June, the 64-year-old seen as a moderate assumes Iran's highest elected office at a 1230 GMT ceremony presided over by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (Agencies)
Rowhani succeeds Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose turbulent double-term presidency was marked by frequent outbursts against the Jewish state and a disputed re-election that saw a heavy-handed crackdown on dissent.
Ahmadinejad's eight years in office were also marked by showdowns with Western powers over Tehran's nuclear ambitions and economic suffering because of international sanctions and mismanagement.
Rowhani's remarks about Israel showed that Iran's new president will also be no stranger to controversy on the international stage.
During annual rallies on Quds (Jerusalem) Day, he labeled Israel a ‘wound’ on the Muslim world, sparking a sharp response from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"In our region, a wound has for many years been sitting on the body of the Islamic world in the shadow of occupation of the holy land of Palestine and the dear Quds," Rowhani said in remarks broadcast on state television.
But his comments were originally misquoted by official media that reported him as saying "the Zionist regime is a wound inflicted for years on the body of the Muslim world that must be cleansed".
Netanyahu swiftly denounced Iran's president-elect, based on his remarks as initially reported. "Even if the Iranians work to deny these comments, this is what the man thinks and reflects the regime's plans," he said.
Rowhani on Friday also pledged allegiance to the Palestinian cause and rejection of Israel as a state, an unfaltering cornerstone of Iranian foreign policy since the 1979 Islamic revolution toppled the US-backed shah.
After his surprise election win in June, the 64-year-old seen as a moderate assumes Iran's highest elected office at a 1230 GMT ceremony presided over by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.