UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned hostile remarks toward Israel and the denial of the Holocaust in Iran Thursday. The UN chief’s criticism came during the Non-Aligned Movement Summit held in Tehran.
The UN chief did not mention Iran by name, but said, “I strongly reject threats by any member state to destroy another or outrageous attempts to deny historical facts, such as the Holocaust.”
“Claiming that another UN member state, Israel, does not have the right to exist, or describing it in racist terms, is not only utterly wrong but undermines the very principles we have all pledged to uphold,” he added.
Ban had earlier conveyed the same message in private meetings with Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader.
Ahmadinejad has repeatedly denied the Holocaust and this month described Israel as a “cancerous tumour”. In 2005 he caused uproar by being quoted as saying that Israel should be “wiped off the map”.
The UN chief’s comments yesterday came after Iran’s Supreme Leader used the inaugurating speech at the conference to launch a venomous tirade against Israel. “Even now after 65 years the same kind of crimes marks the treatment of Palestinians remaining in the occupied territories by the ferocious Zionist wolves,” Khamenei was quoted by the Fars news agency as saying, adding that Israel commits “new crimes one after the other and creates new crises for the region.”
The Secretary General had been heavily criticised by some in Israel and the United States for attending the summit, amid fears that it would hand Iran a propaganda coup. Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said the UN Chief would have conveyed a stronger message by boycotting the Tehran summit. “Going there harmed the message and sabotaged the critical efforts to stop illegal Iranian nuclear activity,” he said.