Ahmadinejad 224 ap.
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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is expected to speak at the 62nd UN General Assembly meetings which begin this week in New York - but not without protest.
An official demonstration organized by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the Jewish Communities Relations Council of New York in cooperation with the United Jewish Communities, the UJA-Federation of New York and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs will take place across the street from UN headquarters next Monday, a day after Ahmadinejad is expecteda to arrive here.
"We believe the rally is particularly significant this year, because of Ahmadinejad's continued escalation of rhetoric against Israel and Jews," said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents. Hoenlein pointed to Ahmadinejad's statement in early September that Iran was operating over 3,000 centrifuges and that "every week a new [centrifuge] system is installed."
"He has used negotiations to advance their program without any intent to modify, let alone eliminate, nuclear activity, and at the same time Iran is undermining NATO, instigating in Iraq and supporting Hizbullah," said Hoenlein. "All these things bring greater urgency to the need to take him on, to show Ahmadinejad and the world that his presence here, at the UN, whose very charter he violates - we need to let them know we aren't getting tired, and only augment the activities, Jews and non-Jews alike."
This will be the Iranian president's third appearance in the United States since he was elected in 2005. Ahmadinejad, whose visa restricts him to within a 40-kilometer radius of the UN, has made requests to meet with other heads of state and with Iranians living in the US, but nothing has been confirmed as yet.
Following his visit to the UN, Ahmadinejad is expected to head to Venezuela for a meeting with President Hugo Chavez.
In a letter addressed to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon on Monday, Republican US presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who has repeatedly taken a hard-line position against Iran, said the Iranian president should not be allowed to address the UN, but instead should be greeted "with an indictment under the Genocide Convention."
"The Iranian regime under President Ahmadinejad has spoken openly about wiping Israel off the map, has fueled Hizbullah's terror campaign in the region and around the world and defied the world community in its pursuit of nuclear weapons - capabilities that make these threats even more ominous," the letter said.
Romney also urged the UN to revoke any speaking invitation.
In addition to concerns about Iran's nuclear proliferation, which is a priority for Israel and American Jewish organizations, Hoenlein said other issues to be discussed in meetings over the next two weeks would include implementation of Resolution 1701, concern over the renewal of the Durban Conference, Israeli MIAs and the continued funding for anti-Israel committees.
Hoenlein said groups such as the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People "waste millions of dollars," and are intended as "mere propaganda."
To address some of these issues, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni will arrive in New York next week, where she will hold meetings with the secretary-general and several foreign ministers still to be determined.
"It's not the GA itself, it's the venue," said Deputy Permanent Representative Ambassador Daniel Carmon. "The meetings that will take place next week surrounding the general debate are always a good opportunity for leaders of the world to meet, exchange ideas and dialogue."
Livni will address the General Assembly on October 1 for Israel's annual address.
Ahmadinejad's appearance "was a major concern last year, and he's only added up more reasons for the international community to know who he is," said Carmon. "Not sure we can weigh concerns, but the international community should be very concerned with what he is saying and doing on all levels."