Ahmadinejad slams Israel again after UN walk-out
Iran's president accused Israel today of "brutal acts" and "ethnic cleansing" against the Palestinians, two days after his denunciation of the Jewish state as racist prompted a walk-out from a UN meeting on race.world Updated: Apr 22, 2009 16:33 IST
Iran's president accused Israel on Wednesday of "brutal acts" and "ethnic cleansing" against the Palestinians, two days after his denunciation of the Jewish state as racist prompted a walk-out from a UN meeting on race.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a conference in Tehran on Israel's "genocide and war crimes" in Gaza that Israeli "criminals" should be brought to justice for the war in the Palestinian coastal strip in January.
He said Iran, Israel's arch-foe, had submitted requests for the arrests of 25 "Zionist war criminals" to Interpol. Iran often refers to Israel as the "Zionist regime." Iran had previously announced that it had taken such action with Interpol.
"(They) must be held accountable for all their brutality," Ahmadinejad told the meeting of prosecutors from Islamic countries in a speech broadcast live on state television.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran ... expects this organisation to fulfil its legal duties," he said in comments translated by Iran's English-language Press TV.
"Siege and mass murder of the Palestinians in Gaza and ethnic cleansing in other occupied areas are all considered as other crimes committed by the Zionist regime," Ahmadinejad said.
On Monday the Iranian president, who has in the past raised doubts about the Nazi Holocaust, denounced Israel at a United Nations conference on racism as a "totally racist government" founded "on the pretext of Jewish sufferings".
Ahmadinejad's comments caused European countries not already boycotting the conference to walk out but drew applause from Islamic delegations. U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday condemned his remarks as "appalling and objectionable".
On Wednesday, Ahmadinejad said the U.N. conference in Geneva was a defeat for Israel and accused the Jewish state of trying to introduce a new interpretation of racism.
"But for the first time at an international conference the freedom spirit of the nations ... neutralised the Zionists' evil plans and became victorious," Ahmadinejad said.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon accused Ahmadinejad on Tuesday of misusing the U.N. conference.
Ahmadinejad said Ban Ki-moon had asked him to make a "soft" speech at the conference, but he had rejected it.
"I told him, if not exposing all this at a U.N. conference, then where should issues like crimes in Gaza ... and genocide of the Palestinians be raised?" he added.
Ahmadinejad was criticised for attending the conference by his main moderate challenger in Iran's June presidential election Mirhossein Mousavi, Iran's moderate newspapers said.
Mousavi believes in a conciliatory foreign policy toward the West unlike Ahmadinejad, who was the only head of state to address the Geneva conference.
First Published: Apr 22, 2009 16:31 IST