Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, responding to a series of threatening statements, called Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a dictator and said Tuesday that Israel is able to defend itself.
In a satellite relay to a convention of the Anti-Defamation League, a pro-Israel group, Olmert, who is in the midst of pulling together the final pieces of a new Israeli government, responded firmly to the Iranian leader's frequent rhetorical jabs at Israel.
Olmert said he takes the threats by Ahmadinejad to erase Israel from the map "very seriously."
"We do not take it lightly," Olmert said, speaking from Jerusalem. "We are powerful and able to defend ourselves."
Olmert has urged international action against Iran's nuclear program, saying Tehran's ambitions threaten not only Israel but all of Western civilization.