Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused Israel of "inhuman policies" in the Palestinian territories and of dominating world political and economic affairs in his speech to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.
Ahmadinejad assailed Israel for what he said was a barbaric attack on the Gaza Strip last winter. He also accused the West of hypocrisy, saying it preached democracy, but violated its fundamental principles.
Addressing Israel, the Iranian leader said, "The awakening of nations and the expansion of freedom worldwide will no longer allow them to continue their hypocrisy and vicious attitudes."
"How can one imagine that the inhuman policies in Palestine may continue?" Ahmadinejad continued. "How can crimes of the occupiers against defenseless women and children and destruction of their homes, farms, hospitals and schools be supported unconditionally by certain governments?"
The Iranian leader said it was time for the world to respond. "It is no longer acceptable that a small minority would dominate the politics, economy and culture of major parts of the world by its complicated networks, and establish a new form of slavery, and harm the reputation of other nations, even European nations and the U.S., to attain its racist ambitions," he said.
Ahmadinejad spoke to a half-empty chamber as he sought to cast himself as a beleaguered champion of the developing world, that he portrayed as under attack from rapacious capitalism.
At the same time, the Iranian leader issued stinging attacks on the United States and its allies without calling them by name, prompting a walkout by the U.S. delegation.
At times, Ahmadinejad struck a softer tone, declaring that Tehran was prepared to warmly shake all those hands which are honestly extended to us. He peppered his speech with religious references, invoking the prophets of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Ahmadinejad made a passing reference to the nuclear issue - call for global nuclear disarmament - but most of the speech focused on his usual themes - scathing verbal attacks on Israel and the West.
Ahmadinejad also accused foreign forces of spreading "war, bloodshed, aggression, terror and intimidation" in the Middle East, citing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Turning to domestic affairs, Ahmadinejad insisted he won a large majority in June elections. Pro-reform opposition politicians have alleged electoral fraud, and Ahmadinejad has been at the center of political turmoil since then.
"Our nation has gone through a glorious and fully democratic election, opening a new chapter for our country in the march towards national progress and enhanced international interactions," he said, adding that Iranian voters "entrusted me once more with a large majority."
Netanyahu: Ahmadinejad seeks the annihilation of six million more
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was not present at the time of Ahmadinejad's speech, said late Wednesday night that he "did not attend Obama's address as to not sit in the same hall with the president of Iran who has denied the murder of six million Jews and calls for the annihilation of six million more."
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon told the Israeli prime minister during a meeting between the two that he had condemned Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial on three separate occasions, adding that his repeated calls to destroy Israel were unacceptable.
Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the United States, called Ahmadinejad's address a "cry for truth from a Holocaust denier, a cry for democracy from a leader who shoots freedom seeking protestors, and a cry for peace from the word's biggest sponsor of terror, who aspires to annihilate a UN member nation."
"He says the Jews are a small and greedy minority that controls the world through slavery. That's classic anti-Semitism which exposed the true face of that regime, to anyone who still in doubt."
Israel's UN envoy Professor Gabriela Shalev said that "Ahmadinejad's hate speech reiterates the danger that Iran poses."
"The Iranian president proved again what Israel has been arguing all along, that Iran's nuclear ambitions must be brought to an end," Shalev said.
The Israeli envoy added that a "A time limit must placed out on Iran's compliance with international demands, along with an unequivocal assertion that if it does not meet that date severe sanctions will be implemented against it."
Shalev also said that Ahmadinejad's speech created the appropriate backdrop for Netanyahu's speech, which he is due to give on Thursday.
According to the Israeli envoy, in his address Netanyahu will clarify what dangers Iran poses and prove that there is no choice but to take immediate and decisive action.
The Iranian president did not mention the nuclear issue, Shalev pointed out, thus proving he was ignoring the international demand to comply with international law.
"Ahmadinejad revealed, yet again, his true nature, for while he tortures his own people and represses citizen protest he has the courage to say Israel was committing genocide," Shalev said.
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