Peres. 'Iran center of hatred'
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Peres: Racist UN conference disgraceful

President says feels 'disgraced that a racist conference is opening in Geneva on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, with Iranian President Ahmadinejad as the guest of honor.' There must be a limit to Switzerland's neutrality, he adds

President Shimon Peres harshly criticized the United Nations anti-racism conference opening in Geneva on Monday, in which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will take part.


"I feel disgraced that a racist conference is opening in Geneva on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, with Ahmadinejad as guest of honor. This is the same Ahmadinejad that called for the destruction of Israel and wants it wiped off the map.


"There must be a limit to Switzerland's neutrality. Is Ahmadinejad the world's hope for the future?" Peres said.


The president added, "I don’t want to talk too much about Iran, where they hang people for no apparent reason. Iran is the center of hatred, bloodshed and terror.


"I would like to express Israel's gratitude to the United States and the other democracies that have decided not to take part in the Durban disgrace. We have no conference, but we have the Lord – and we will pray to him today."


So far, nine countries have announced their withdrawal from the conference - the US, Australia, New Zealand, Holland, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Poland and Canada.


Meanwhile, opposition leader Tzipi Livni urged the international community to join Israel and nine other countries and boycott conference.


"This is the last call for the international community that believes in the values on which the United Nations was built not to take part in the Durban conference. This is a conference with an agenda of hate, and its leaders are using it to project hate," she said.


"The fact that the Iranian president is a welcome guest at a UN conference is inconceivable," Livni added.


'Not everyone has learned lesson of Shoah'

Earlier Monday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman instructed Israel's Ambassador in Switzerland Ilan Elgar to return to Jerusalem for consultations following Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz's meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.


Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yossi Levy clarified that the move was made in protest of Switzerland's approach towards "a Holocaust denier who has spoken more than once about the need to wipe Israel off the map." Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was consulted on the move and approved of Lieberman's decision.


Netanyahu also addressed Ahmadinejad's participation in the conference at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting Monday, saying that "while we remember the six million (Jews murdered in the Holocaust), a conference will be held in Switzerland allegedly against racism. Its guest of honor is a Holocaust denier who does not conceal his plan to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.


"I congratulate the countries which chose to boycott the conference. Contrary to those dark days, today we have a strong Jewish state," he said, adding that "Unfortunately, not everyone has learned the lesson of the Holocaust."


UN chief: Text carefully balanced

However, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on defended the disputed conference text as "carefully balanced" and said the conference was necessary to confront simmering racial tensions that could otherwise trigger social unrest and violence.


"I deeply regret that some have chosen to stand aside. I hope they will not do so for long," he told the Geneva meeting.


Britain, the Czech Republic and France have decided to take part in the conference, but sent low-ranking diplomatic officials. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said his country's representative would walk out "immediately" if the conference turns into a platform for racist comments against Israel.


פרסום ראשון: 04.20.09, 13:33
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