Sat, Nov 15, 2008 - Page 6 News List

Iran says Israel abusing UN’s interfaith meeting

ACCUSATORYThe Iranian envoy did not mention Israel by name, but there was little doubt which country he accused of occupation, assassination and state terrorism

AGENCIES , UN AND GAZA CITY, GAZA STRIP

Iran’s UN envoy on Thursday accused Israel of abusing a Saudi-sponsored UN interfaith conference for political purposes and suggested the state had no right to take part.

Speaking on the second day of the meeting, which earlier heard US President George W. Bush call for worldwide religious freedom, Iranian Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee did not name Israel, but left no doubt what he had in mind.

“The representative of a regime [whose] short history is marked with ... aggression, occupation, assassination, state terrorism and torture against the Palestinian people, under the pretext of a false interpretation of a divine religion, has tried to abuse this meeting for its narrow political purposes,” he said.

Khazaee was referring to Israeli President Shimon Peres, who took the rare opportunity of being in the same room as Saudi King Abdullah on Wednesday to praise a Saudi peace initiative that he said brought hope to the Middle East.

“The participation of such a regime not only has no benefit to our common purpose, but, as proved in this very meeting, will give them a chance to try to disrupt the current process to divert our attention from our mandate” to improve dialogue between different religions, Khazaee said.

Khazaee’s speech stood out at the two-day meeting of the UN General Assembly, convened at the request of the Saudi monarch, not only because of its accusatory language, but because it failed to praise Abdullah.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal reacted coolly to Peres’ remarks.

“The disappointing side of President Peres’ comment is that he chose parts of the Arab peace plan and left other parts untouched,” he told reporters.

In related news, Israeli aircraft fired missiles at a target in the northern Gaza Strip yesterday and Palestinian militants sent a rocket barrage flying into Israel as a five-month truce continued to unravel.

Israel’s military said the airstrike targeted rocket launchers, and a Hamas radio station reported that two militants from the Islamic Jihad organization were wounded.

Gaza militants unleashed a barrage of rockets at the southern Israeli town of Sderot, and Israeli rescue services said they were treating one person wounded by shrapnel.

Hamas claimed responsibility for firing the rockets in an announcement posted on one of the group’s Web sites.

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