The United Nations Security Council Friday condemned the Iranian president's call to "wipe Israel off the map" and called on Iran not to use threatening language against Israel.
Following the UN condemnation, Iran issued a statement saying it had no intention of attacking Israel and said it was obliged to adhere to the rules of the UN.
However, on the same day, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stood fast behind his Wednesday demand that the Jewish state be wiped off the map and reissued the call during nationwide protests to mark "Jerusalem Day," the last Friday of Ramadan annually used to denounce Israel.
Roni Leshno Ya'ar, the Israeli Foreign Ministry's deputy director-general for the UN and international organizations, welcomed the Security Council's statement, saying it was unprecedented for the Security Council to condemn the leader of a Muslim country for statements against Israel.
Leshno Ya'ar said the statement had considerable "diplomatic, moral and media" significance. He said the fact that Iran issued a statement saying that it had no intention of attacking Israel shows that the UN action got Iran's attention.
As to whether Israel would further pursue attempts to try and build a coalition in the UN calling for Iran's expulsion from the UN, he said Israel now wanted to keep the focus on halting Iran's nuclear program.
The Security Council's statement was a quick and harsh reply to last week's speech by Ahmadinejad.
"The members of the Security Council condemn the remarks about Israel attributed to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of the Islamic Republic of Iran," said the statement issued by the Security Council, adding that "under the United Nations Charter, all members have undertaken to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state."
All 15 Security Council members agreed on the language of the statement regarding Iran, but the forum did not have an open public discussion on the Iranian threat due to the objection of the Algerian representative. Algeria is currently the only Arab country represented in the UN Security Council.
The driving force behind the swift action of the Security Council was Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman, who was joined in his efforts by the US and British ambassadors.
The Iranian government, which at first was reluctant to take back its threat, issued a statement over the weekend clarifying its stand and claiming it has no intention of attacking or Israel. "The Islamic Republic of Iran is committed to its engagements based on the UN charter and has never resorted to, nor threatened to resort to force against another country," said the statement issued in Teheran by the Iranian Foreign Ministry.
But, even after retracting from the aggressive language used against Israel, the Iranian government refused to accept the UN condemnation and called it "unacceptable."
According to the official Iranian news agency, Iran sees the UN statement as one that has been "dictated by the Zionist regime."