Friday, September 19, 2008

Ahmadinejad says Israel won't survive


TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lashed out at Israel on Thursday, saying the Jewish state would not survive, even if it gave up land for a Palestinian state. He also dismissed allegations that his country is trying to make nuclear arms. Speaking to reporters in Tehran, the hard-line leader smirked at the former mantra of the Israeli right of a "Greater" Israel that would include land Palestinians want for a future state. The idea has since been abandoned, with the Israeli political consensus now being that there would be a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, on either side of Israel.

"I have heard some say the idea of Greater Israel has expired," Ahmadinejad said. "I say that the idea of lesser Israel has expired, too."

Ahmadinejad used the news conference to speak at length before traveling to New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly that opened Tuesday.

The Iranian president repeated previous anti-Israel comments, calling the Holocaust a "fake" and saying that Israel is perpetrating a holocaust on the Palestinian people.

The remarks appear to be part of Ahmadinejad's effort to deflect criticism at home over failed economic policies. Iran's inflation hit 27.6 percent last month.

He might also be trying to repair damage caused by his vice president, Esfandiar Rahim Mashai, who was recently quoted as saying Iranians were "friends of all people in the world — even Israelis."

Speaking about Iran's controversial nuclear program, Ahmadinejad said the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency has "no right" to consider documents provided by the U.S. alleging Tehran sought to make an atomic bomb.

On Monday, an International Atomic Energy Agency report said Iran had blocked a U.N. investigation into allegations it tried to make nuclear arms and that the inquiry was deadlocked.

Ahmadinejad said the report "verified the peaceful nature" of Iran's nuclear program, which Tehran says is only for electricity production.

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