Israel's Vice Premier Shimon Peres has called for Iran's expulsion from the United Nations following comments made by Iran's president that Israel should be "wiped off the map."
Israeli officials are expressing outrage and demanding the United Nations take action against Iran following comments by the country's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Israel should be "wiped off the map."
Iran's president made his comments at a conference called the "The World Without Zionism," attended by several thousand students in Tehran. Iran's president also says that Muslim leaders who recognize Israel will "face the wrath of their own people."
In a letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Israel's Vice Premier Shimon Peres said the remarks "contravene the United Nations charter and are tantamount to a crime against humanity." Mr. Peres called on the Israeli government to submit a request to the U.N. Security Council to obtain Iran's expulsion from the world body. Mark Regev, a spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry says Israel takes the matter very seriously.
"Our ambassador at the United Nations has spoken directly at the Security Council and with the secretary general," said Mark Regev. "We think that the international community cannot sit silently. We have a situation where one U.N. member has called for the destruction of another U.N. member. This goes against the very principles on which the U.N. is based. It goes against the principle of peace and cooperation. This is an outrage and we think the organized international community has to condemn this in very harsh terms."
The comments by Iran's president have been condemned around the world. European Union leaders meeting in London on Thursday said such comments will cause concern about Iran's role in the region and its future intentions. The EU leaders said they remain committed to a solution to the Arab-Israel dispute based on the principle of "two states living side-by-side in peace and security."
Meanwhile, in Washington, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the Iranian leader's remarks "underscore the concerns the U.S. has about Iran's nuclear operations."
Speaking on Wednesday following a meeting with Russia's foreign minister, Israeli Foreign Minister Sylvan Shalom said Israel considers Iran's nuclear ambitions to be a grave threat to its security, and he called for action by the United Nations.
"If Iran does not comply with its international obligations and continues to threaten global security then sanctions must be initiated and the sooner the better," he said.
Last month the International Atomic Energy Agency passed a resolution that could allow Iran to be referred to the Security Council for what the U.N. agency called Iran's non-compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The United States accuses Iran's government of seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charge, saying it is seeking to develop a nuclear power capability for energy production.