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(photo credit: AP)
The motto of the Israeli delegation to the UN could be the following: Don't tread where Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad goes.
Based on the principle that Israel will not dignify the Iranian president with its presence at any forum where he may turn up, Israeli officials will be absent from a number of UN receptions over the next few days, and have even changed the accommodations of the massive Israeli delegation in New York.
While originally scheduled to stay at the Intercontinental Hotel in Manhattan, the Israeli delegation - which includes Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman - moved to the Regency Hotel when it learned the Iranian delegation would be housed at the Intercontinental.
Moreover, Netanyahu will not attend the opening session of the General Assembly meeting on Wednesday, in which US President Barack Obama will be giving the keynote address, because he does not want to sit next to Ahmadinejad. Iran follows Israel in alphabetical order, and as a result the two countries sit next to each other in the General Assembly.
While Netanyahu won't be in the hall, Israel's envoy to the UN, Gabriela Shalev, will remain - and the photos of the two delegations side-by-side will likely be beamed around the world.
No Israeli official will remain in the hall, however, when Ahmadinejad is scheduled to speak in the afternoon. Netanyahu explained this decision recently by saying Israel did not want to be seen as giving the Iranian leader any legitimacy, and would be pleased if other countries followed suit.
The US delegation is expected to be represented during Ahmadinejad's speech only by a low-level official.