NEW YORK – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
said Wednesday night that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
"denies the murder of six million and is calling for the elimination of another six million."
Netanyahu spoke shortly before Ahmadinejad's speech
at the United Nations General Assembly. The prime minister met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and urged him to speak out firmly against the Tehran regime.
"Mr. Secretary-General, we must hear your voice on Iran's
arms race, because it hurts peace in the entire world and doesn't just threaten Israel,"
The meeting was attended by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman,
who added that Ahmadinejad "denies the Holocaust and calls for the destruction of the State of Israel."
In his General Assembly speech, the Iranian president attacked Israel, accusing the Jewish state of committing genocide in the territories. He criticized Western countries for ignoring its "racist aspirations" and claimed that the Jews control politics and global economy.
During his speech, several Western delegations left the auditorium – including France, the United States and Sweden, which currently serves as the European Union president.
During his meeting with Ban, the prime minister said he had informed US President Barack Obama in advance that he would not be able to sit in the auditorium during his speech,
"so as not to sit in the same room with the Holocaust denier calling for Israel's destructions."
The UN chief renounced Ahmadinejad's remarks, clarifying that such statements were unacceptable. He added that he had condemned the Iranian president three times in the past, after Ahmadinejad expressed his doubts over the murder of Europe's Jews.
Foreign Minister Lieberman welcomed the walkout of UN delegations during Ahmadinejad's speech. "The important thing in Ahmadinejad's speech is not his expected remarks against Israel, but the response of the free world, whose representatives got up and left the auditorium," Lieberman told Ynet.
Iranian president addresses UN General Assembly (Photo: Reuters)
Lieberman is holding a series of meetings with foreign ministers all over the world these days, briefing them on the Iranian nuclear threat
and its satellite organizations – Hamas
The foreign minister refused to address the content of Ahmadinejad's speech, but noted that "today it's clear to the free world who is the Iranian president and what danger he poses."
According to Lieberman, "What happened last night at the UN assembly is a great victory and an achievement to Israeli diplomacy – the majority of the free world left the auditorium, thanks to our determination on the Iranian issue since the 'Durban 2' conference.
"If we had to work hard there, run around and convince the countries not to listen to Ahmadinejad's speech, this time it was much easier for us. The free world's response was natural and did not take a lot of effort," he said.
The Iranian president's speech enraged members of the Israeli delegation to the UN. Israeli Ambassador to Washington Michael Oren says that the speech was "classic anti-Semitism, which reveals the true colors of the regime, if anyone had any doubt."
According to Oren, the speech "is a call for telling the truth from a Holocaust denier. It’s a call for democracy from a leader who shoots protestors in the name of freedom. It’s a call for peace from the biggest supporter of terror in the world, from a person who seeks to destroy a country which is a UN member."
Ahmadinejad speaks, delegates leave (Photo: AFP)
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev said that "Ahmadinejad's enmity speech once again proves the danger reflected from Iran."
She noted that the Iranian president had failed to mention the nuclear issue, revealing his truce character. "He abuses the residents of his country, oppresses demonstrations of residents during elections, and has the audacity to say that Israel is committing genocide. Ahmadinejad must believe that the world is unaware of his actions and doesn't understand his intentions."
Netanyahu took advantage of this meeting with Ban in order to slam the UN committee's report
on the Israeli operation in Gaza.
The UN chief clarified that he recognizes Israel's right to self-defense, to which the prime minister responded: "If Israel has a right to self-defense, how does this fall in with the Goldstone Report?"
Ban asked Netanyahu to allow the entry of construction materials into the Gaza Strip, for humanitarian purposes. The prime minister explained that these materials were being used to build bunkers and shelters.
The UN chief promised to guarantee that these materials would not reach the wrong hands, and Netanyahu promised to consider the request.
"We have no problem with building clinics, just with building bunkers. Hamas is using these materials to build bunkers and is violating international law. It is smuggling weapons through Sudan to the Gaza Strip, hiding within a civilian population and firing missiles at civilians," he noted.
The prime minister is expected to address the 64th UN General Assembly at 8 pm Thursday. According to his associates, Netanyahu is expected to deliver a scathing speech with a historic perspective, which will focus on Iran and will not deal with the Palestinian issue in detail.
"It will be a very poignant address, focusing on Iran and its Holocaust-denying leader," said a source close Netanyahu. "The prime minister's speech will not include unfamiliar political news. The listeners are in for a speech in English, a well-written speech, which will last about 15 minutes."