(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Israel's political establishment came to a rare unanimous agreement Monday when MKs from across the spectrum bashed Iran for hosting an international conference questioning whether the Nazis used gas chambers to kill Jews during the Holocaust.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who compared Israel's treatment of Palestinians to Auschwitz during the opening ceremony Monday, was "falsifying and disgracing the Jewish past," said Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni (Kadima).
"The problem is that this conference is being dignified by a handful of people. This is a disgrace," said Livni. "The Iranian problem is not just a problem for the State of Israel, it's a problem for anyone who values democracy and the free world."
Israel slams Iran Holocaust conference
Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik (Kadima) opened the Knesset debate by pleading with parliaments worldwide to recall their representatives from the conference. Last week, Itzik wrote letters to 145 parliaments asking them to "send a clear and urgent message that such behavior can no longer be tolerated by the family of nations."
Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog (Labor) said that if Ahmadinejad were invited to visit the crematoriums, take part in the March of the Living and visit all the museums and sites worldwide dedicated to honoring the memory of the Jews who were slaughtered in the Holocaust, he might understand that denying the Holocaust was a mistake.
"He should meet the survivors who have numbers tattooed on their wrists," Herzog told the Knesset.
Herzog exhorted the Jewish people to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive from generation to generation.
"All over the world, the survivors' words, their writings, should be passed on from father to son and in every classroom," he said. "For the first time since World War II, a member of the United Nations has called for the extermination of another member. That says it all."
Speaking after Herzog, MK Yisrael Katz (Likud) called Ahmadinejad "the evil of our time."
"Ahmadinejad supports all the terror organizations that are fighting Israel," Katz said. "By denying the Holocaust he persecutes not only the living Zionist state, but the Jewish dead."
Katz also urged the government not to allow Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to return to the PA following Haniyeh's four-day visit to Iran.
"It would be best if Haniyeh, who has joined the murderous path of Iran, were banished from the PA," Katz said.
If Haniyeh were kept away from the PA, Katz argued, an opportunity would be created for more moderate Palestinian elements to step into power and reach a long-term agreement with Israel.
Several of the Arab MKs told the Knesset that they were unhappy to see the conference take place and that they were ashamed of their fellow Arabs for taking part in the conference.