The United States’ delegation boycotted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday. The Canadian delegation left the assembly as he took the podium.
A US spokesman announced the decision on Wednesday morning, citing Ahmadinejad’s anti-Israel comments while in New York and the fact that the address fell on Yom Kippur.
“Over the past couple of days, we’ve seen Mr. Ahmadinejad once again use his trip to the UN not to address the legitimate aspirations of the Iranian people but to instead spout paranoid theories and repulsive slurs against Israel,” said a spokesperson for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. “It’s particularly unfortunate that Mr. Ahmadinejad will have the platform of the UN General Assembly on Yom Kippur, which is why the United States has decided not to attend.”
Israel’s delegation was also absent — because of Yom Kippur. Previously, Israeli, American, some European and other diplomats have walked out of Ahmadinejad’s UN addresses. This year, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, urged all countries to boycott the speech. “Any country that sits in during Ahmadinejad’s speech is in violation of the United Nations Charter,” which forbids member states from threatening other member states, Prosor told the Times of Israel two weeks ago.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was leaving Wednesday for the US, and was set to address the assembly on Thursday.