Israel is redoubling efforts to get UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and leaders of friendly Non-Aligned
Movement states to stay away from the NAM leadership summit in Tehran at the end
of the month. The move follows Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s latest
characterization of Israel as a “cancerous tumor” that needs to be wiped
Ahmadinejad delivered his speech on Friday at a Tehran rally held in
honor of al-Qods (Jerusalem) Day, marked each year on the last Friday of Ramadan
in accordance with a tradition established by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the
late supreme leader of Iran.
Ahmadinejad referred to Israel as a Western
“tool to dominate the Middle East,” and an “insult to all
“Today, Israel and the Zionist entity are against the
preservation of all human rights and human dignity,” IRNA quoted Ahmadinejad as
saying at the event.
During the same speech, AFP quoted him as saying:
“The Zionist regime and the Zionists are a cancerous tumor. Even if one cell of
them is left in one inch of [Palestinian] land, in the future this story [of
Israel’s existence] will repeat itself.”
Iranian Revolutionary Guards
Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh also warned on Saturday that an Israeli strike on Iran
would provoke a swift retaliation, allowing Tehran to “dump [Israel] into the
dustbin of history.”
“If the loud cries of the leaders of the Zionist
regime are materialized, it would be the best opportunity for obliterating this
fake regime from the face of the earth and dump it into the dustbin of history,”
Hajizadeh said, according to Iran’s English-language state television network
Hajizadeh, who heads the Revolutionary Guards’ airborne
division, said “it will be a great honor for combatants and defense forces of
the Islamic Iran to realize the ideal of the annihilation of the Zionist regime
and shape the new Middle East on the basis of the will of regional Muslim
The Iranian state media reported over the weekend that
protesters held massive rallies in cities across Iran on Friday, marking the
anti- Zionist event which calls for the “liberation of Palestine.” Demonstrators
waved Palestinian flags and held signs bearing slogans such as “Down with the
US” and “Death to Israel.”
The Fars News Agency, which claims to be
independent but which has close ties to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, reported
that millions of people were expected to take part in the events in more than
550 cities throughout the country. The report added that the demonstration was
not only against Israel and the US, but the silence of the international
community at “the crimes committed in the occupied lands.”
rallies took place throughout the Muslim world on Friday.
Ali Khamenei reaffirmed his commitment to the Palestinian cause on Wednesday,
stating that he is confident that “the fake Zionist [regime] will disappear from
the landscape of geography,” Iran’s Mehr News Agency, which is owned by the
Islamic Ideology Dissemination Organization, reported.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon termed the Iranian leaders’ comments “offensive and
“The secretary-general is dismayed by the remarks
threatening Israel’s existence attributed over the last two days to the supreme
leader and the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the UN press office
said. “The secretary-general condemns these offensive and inflammatory
“[Ban] believes that all leaders in the region should use
their voices at this time to lower, rather than to escalate, tensions,” it said.
“In accordance with the United Nations Charter, all members must refrain from
the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political
independence of any state.”
Jerusalem welcomed Ban’s
One government official, however, said that it was important
that, after issuing such a statement, “the secretary-general does not continue
with business as usual.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in a
telephone conversation with Ban some 10 days ago, called on him not to attend
the NAM summit scheduled for August 26 to 31. He said that such a move would
give the Iranians badly craved legitimacy at a time when the country should be
Ban’s office has not said whether the
secretary-general will attend the conference, at which Iran will assume
chairmanship of the 120- state movement.
If Ban does attend the
conference, the official said, it would badly “depreciate” his “strong and
commendable” condemnation of Ahmadinejad’s recent tirade.
views his proposed visit as a mistake,” he said.
Israel is working
through its embassies abroad and through direct conversations with various
leaders to persuade other NAM countries – some of which have good ties with
Israel – to either boycott the meeting or to send only low level representation
to send a strong message to Iran of an abhorrence of its polices.
these messages, Israel is asking the NAM countries whether Iran is truly a
country with which it wants to be associated, and reminding them that the
Iranians have been involved in terrorist attacks in many countries that are part
of the NAM.
For instance, in India the police have said the Iranians were
behind the attack on the wife of an Israeli diplomat there earlier this year;
three Iranians are in jail in Thailand for thwarted attacks there; and two
Iranians are in jail in Kenya for the same reason.
“The whole idea that
Iran is only the West’s problem is a fallacy,” the Israeli official
Iranian leaders were not the only ones threatening Israel over the
weekend. On Friday Hezbollah said it possessed precision rockets that could kill
“tens of thousands” of Israelis in strikes on Israel.
“I tell the
Israelis that you have a number of targets, not a large number... that
can be hit with precision rockets... which we have,” Hezbollah secretary-general
Hassan Nasrallah said in a broadcast speech. He said he would not identify the
targets, and he did not say whether the rockets were newly acquired
Nasrallah said his group could strike a limited number of
targets in Israel that if hit would lead to mass casualties – a possible
reference to Israeli nuclear facilities.
“Hitting these targets with a
small number of rockets will turn... the lives of hundreds of thousands of
Zionists to real hell, and we can talk about tens of thousands of dead,”
He said Israel was still debating whether to attack Iran
because “Iran was strong and brave.”
One Israeli official said that
Hezbollah was merely a proxy for the Iranian regime, not the “Lebanese
liberation movement” it has masqueraded as over the years, and that it was now
threatening to “ignite the Israeli-Lebanese border to serve the interests of its
masters in Tehran.”
The official said that “anyone with eyes in their
head” understands that Hezbollah “is a brutal totalitarian terrorist
organization” allied not only with Iran but also with the regime of Syria’s
President Bashar Assad, to the extent that it is “on the ground killing innocent
Ban was not the only one over the weekend to condemn
Ahmadinejad’s comments. They were also slammed by the US and the EU.
National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor told AFP, “We strongly condemn
the latest series of offensive and reprehensible comments by senior Iranian
officials that are aimed at Israel.”
He said that if Iran were concerned
about human rights, it should stop supporting Assad’s “brutal assault on the
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, meanwhile,
called Ahmadinejad’s comments “outrageous and hateful.”
West’s chief negotiator over Iran’s nuclear program, issued a statement saying
she “strongly condemns the outrageous and hateful remarks threatening Israel’s
existence by the supreme leader and the president of the Islamic Republic of
Iran. Israel’s right to exist must not be called into question.”
Paraszczuk and Reuters contributed to this report.