Iran is against a two-state solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, preferring instead to see one state that would encompass both Israel and the Palestinian territories, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the United Nations General Assembly.
Ahmadinejad, who in the past has called for Israel to be “wiped off the map,” suggested this could be done through a referendum of Israelis and Palestinians that would decide their future government. But he made it clear that Iran favored a Palestinian state on that land.
Israelis are against a one-state solution because of just that fear.
“The Zionist regime is on the slope of decline,” Ahmadinejad told the world body here.
He also used his address to accuse “a small but deceitful number of people called Zionists” of dominating financial and political capitals in Europe and the U.S. in a “deceitful, complex and furtive manner.”
And he charged that Israel had played an “underhanded” role in the Georgia conflict with Russia.
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said the speech makes it clear that Ahmadinejad is “deeply infected with anti-Semitism.” He said his comments “echo the most infamous passages of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” an anti-Semitic document published in the early 1900s that has been widely discredited as a hoax.
“With its oft-repeated calls for ‘death’ to America and Israel, the Iranian regime promotes a culture of hatred for the West and a worldview that is hostile to all freedom-loving nations,” he said.
“Nuclear weapons in the hands of this increasingly irrational and extremist regime would pose an unambiguous threat to the world,” Foxman added. “It is clear from Mr. Ahmadinejad’s remarks that the Iranian regime has no intention to cooperate on any level with nuclear weapons inspectors, and will continue to do anything to promote its zealous pursuit of nuclear weapons and support for extremist ideology and groups.”
Ahmadinejad’s UN address followed recent statements from the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency warning that it was not possible to determine whether Iran was hiding some nuclear activities.
In an interview Monday published by the Los Angeles Times, Ahmadinejad compared Israel to “an airplane that has lost its engine” and repeated his contention that the Holocaust did not occur. And even if it did, he asked, why must Palestinians be made to “pay” for it?
“Who are these people? Where did they come from?” he asked, referring to the Jewish refugees from Europe who founded the State of Israel in 1948.
“If we agree and accept that certain events had occurred during World War II, well, where did they indeed happen? In Germany, in Poland… Now what exactly does this have to do with Palestine? Why is it that the Palestinian people should pay for it?”
Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, dismissed the comments as more of the “same old canards.”
“He is saying that the Jews should go back to Europe, which ignores 4,000 years of history,” he said.
Although the United States delegation walked out of the hall when Ahmadinejad rose to speak, Hoenlein said he regretted that “leaders of other democracies did not walk out and instead sat and honored this man.”
Ahmadinejad, he said, represents a “state sponsor of terrorism, a killer of children and a persecutor of women that has threatened member nations of the UN in violation of the charter and has violated UN resolutions. A meaningful demonstration would have sent a clear message.”
Israeli President Shimon Peres voiced his own concerns to the General Assembly, saying: “If the world doesn’t wake up and stop Iran’s nuclear weapons project on time, the future of the world is in danger.” He insisted that the “world must not sit with its arms folded while Iran is developing a nuclear bomb.”
Peres added that if diplomatic efforts and sanctions failed to stop Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons, military action would be necessary.
Ahmadinejad warned on Sunday that Iran would respond swiftly “if anyone allows himself to commit even a tiny offense against Iran’s legitimate interests, borders and sacred land, our armed forces will break his hand before he pulls the trigger,” he said.
In an interview with National Public Radio, Ahmadinejad said he was not interested in a confrontation with the United States but rather would prefer to pursue diplomatic relations.
“We do not have confrontations with anyone,” he insisted.
In a report Tuesday on Iran’s National Public Radio Web site, Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying that the “people of the world — the majority actually — support our stand.”
But a bipartisan poll released this week by the Israel Project found that 87 percent of U.S. voters believe a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a threat to the United States. And fully 90 percent of those polled said Iran would share its nuclear technology or materials with terrorist organizations.
Fifty-five percent of the respondents said they would approve of the United States and its allies making targeted strikes against Iran’s nuclear weapons sites. And 63 percent would approve of Israel taking military action against Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities if diplomacy failed.
At a press conference late last week sponsored by the Israel Project, Michael Ledeen, a former White House national security adviser, pointed out that Iran had “declared war on the U.S. and has been using proxies to attack us.”
He was referring to Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command.
“There is a desire to disbelieve the mullahs,” Ledeen said. “Western leaders invariably ascribe our mode of reasoning to others. We tell ourselves that its leaders would not unleash [attacks] but their leaders say they would. … They have already gone to war against us and the only question is whether they will win.”
“People are going around saying we can’t have war, but the war is already here,” Ledeen added. “Seventy percent of the [Iranian] population dislikes this regime and is in favor of supporting the Iranian people.”
Lily Mazahery, founder and president of the Legal Rights Institute, told the conference that Iran has destroyed human rights and freedom of expression.
“Capital punishment is used to silence dissidents,” she said, noting that 300 were executed last year.
Mazahery said she is in touch with many Iranians in Iran and that “the level of dissatisfaction expressed is overwhelming. I speak with people from all walks of life and they yearn for democracy and they want to modernize. “
Peter Zimmerman, a nuclear physicist, told reporters that Iran passed “some time ago” the point at which it no longer had to import technology to make a nuclear bomb.
“Now we’re counting the number of centrifuges it has and where their program stands so we can make straightforward calculations,” he said. “But knowing its capabilities is not the same as knowing its intentions. They are having some problems and that could string out the date. The earliest [they could develop a nuclear bomb] would be late next year.”
But Ledeen countered that the world knows Iran’s intentions because it is “killing all the Americans it can right now, and it killed scores of Jews in Buenos Aires [in the 1990s]. Why is the nuclear dance the be-all and end-all about Iran. Why is the world hypnotized by this? … The issue is not the devices the mullahs have but that they are trying to destroy us with all the weapons they can get their hands on. We know their intentions. They want to destroy us.”