President Reuven Rivlin urged UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to take a stand against the Palestinian attempt to bring IDF soldiers and Israeli leaders in front of the International Criminal Court (ICC), he told Ynet in an interview on Tuesday.
"I told the UN secretary general that President (Mahmoud) Abbas' appeal (to the ICC) is like aiming an unconventional weapon at Israel," Rivlin said.
"The IDF is the most ethical army in the world," Rivlin told Ban. "Our soldiers are our children, and I have no doubt that we know how to investigate every event which took place during a conflict that was forced upon us, and to draw every necessary conclusion – there is no force in Israel stronger than the law."
"To come and say that our brothers, children and grandchildren who serve in the IDF are war criminals - who says that? Hamas and Hezbollah? The terror organizations who slaughter their own people as well?"
Rivlin said Ban "listened attentively, and remained quiet."
"I told him it was more than cynical that Israel and its soldiers are accused by terror organizations of war crimes. This is unacceptable," the president said.
"We know that in this case, the secretary-general has a technical role, but I told him he's one of the world's leaders and his words mean something. When terror organizations fire rockets at us and launch them from schools, hospitals and houses of worship, the UN secretary-general needs to say it in the clearest of words," he went on to say.
Rivlin is in New York City to address the UN General Assembly on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Tuesday, but his speech was postponed to Wednesday as a major blizzard battered the US northeast.
"The discussion about anti-Semitism with the blessing of the UN secretary-general is important. I asked him to appoint a special envoy for the fight against anti-Semitism," Rivlin said.
"Understanding the lessons of the past is so important for our ability to face the challenges of today, in the Middle East and across the world. Religious hatred is on the rise, the poison of fundamentalism and terrorism has left no corner of the globe immune, and the need to fight this threat is a primary international interest," Rivlin continued.
"I told the secretary-general very clearly that 'Never Again' must be not be taken as a hollow phrase. 'Never Again' means it can't happen in Bosnia, Nigeria, Sudan or anywhere else in the world," he added.
Ban told Rivlin how he was deeply impacted by his visit to Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau about a year ago. “It terrified me to see the horror with my own eyes, and I have no doubt that the visit made me even more committed to the fight for human rights," the secretary-general said.
The president declined a meeting with US President Barack Obama during his visit to the United States after the American president decided not to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when the latter arrives in Washington in early March to address Congress on the Iranian threat.
"Our friendship with the United States is an asset like no other and I'm confident both the president and the prime minister realize how essential this bond is to the strength of the state of Israel," Rivlin said.
"As for the relationship between the prime minister and the US president, I suggest you asked them," he added.
On his first night in New York, President Rivlin asked to order a pizza to his hotel room rather than go out to one of the many gourmet restaurants in the Big Apple. He explained he did not want to be a nuisance to New Yorkers.
At the end of his interview with Ynet at the UN headquarters, it was clear why, as a convoy of some ten vehicles raced up 2nd Avenue with deafening sirens blaring.
"Traveling the streets of New York as a president is really a task that makes it harder on people. I know this, I've been here so many times over the past 40 years. I know what it's like to enter a restaurant accompanied by quite a few security guards, as well as all of the local forces of the NYPD and the FBI - so they close the street. At the age of 75, it's not so terrible for me to stay at the hotel. I'm not suffering here," he said.
Ynetnews contributed to this report.