Netanyahu Heads to UN after Ahmadinejad Hints at End of Israel

Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Marco Castro

Just days after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad implied to The Washington Post that he supported what amounted to the end of the State of Israel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left for New York to give Israel’s response to the United Nations. Israel and Iran have exchanged via the media heightened rhetoric over Tehran’s nuclear program in recent weeks, although Ahmadinejad’s diatribes against Israel are nothing new.

Ahmadinejad himself spoke to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, which was also Yom Kippur—the holiest day of the year for Israel. While he again briefly criticized Israel in his speech to the UN, the most troubling words were given a few days earlier.

In comments to the Post’s David Ignatius on Sunday, Ahmadinejad spoke of eradicating the “bullying” and occupation of the Palestinian people, but refused to explicitly accept Israel’s continued existence when given the chance.

When asked if he did not want to eradicate Israel, the Iranian president responded, “I asked you if the occupation in the Palestinian territories comes to an end what would there remain? Is there a Zionist regime in existence without occupation?”

After he was again asked to clarify, with Ignatius noting that in 1948 the UN recognized the existence of the State of Israel, Ahmadinejad spoke of the Palestinians deciding things in “all of their occupied territories,” implying that all of Israel is “occupied.” He said the result of such a vote is “amply clear” and spoke of the end to other nations’ needing to “support the Zionist regime,” speaking of the Israeli government.

“I think they should allow the people of Palestine in all the territories of Palestine to decide, and whatever they decide, that is what should be done,” said Ahmadinejad, notably ignoring the right of Jews to vote in the matter. At no point did he accept Israel’s right to exist.

Netanyahu, after the end of the Yom Kippur holiday on Wednesday, spoke in a statement from his office of an opportunity to present his nation’s perspective. He said that on Yom Kippur “a platform was given to a dictatorial regime that strives, at every opportunity, to sentence us to death,” speaking of Iran.

Netanyahu promised a response to Iranian rhetoric against Israel in his speech to the UN. He also noted his efforts on the Iranian nuclear crisis. “As the Prime Minister of Israel, the state of the Jewish People, I am working in every way so that Iran will not have nuclear weapons.

“History has proven that those who have wanted to wipe us off the map have failed, as the Jewish People have overcome all obstacles.”

Netanyahu is set to address the UN on Thursday.

(By Joshua Spurlock,, September 26, 2012)