Ashton slams Ahmadinejad’s ‘hateful’ words comparing Israel to ‘cancerous tumor’

EU foreign policy chief joins Ban Ki-moon and the Obama administration in condemning Iranian president’s Friday speech

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (photo credit: AP/Alexander Zemlianichenko/File)
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (photo credit: AP/Alexander Zemlianichenko/File)

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Friday joined UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Obama administration in slamming a speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in which the leader called Israel an “insult to humanity” and a “cancerous tumor.”

“Israel’s right to exist must not be called into question,” Ashton said in a statement communicated by Reuters. According to the statement, Ashton “strongly condemns the outrageous and hateful remarks threatening Israel’s existence by the Supreme Leader and the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Earlier on Saturday, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the Iranian leadership’s “offensive and inflammatory” recent statements on Israel and called on the international community to condemn such provocations.

Ahmadinejad said on Friday that Israel was an “insult to humanity” and “a cancerous tumor” and called for “a new Middle East with no trace of Americans or Zionists” in honor of the annual International al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day that brought millions of Iranians to the streets in solidarity with the Palestinians against Israel’s sovereign control of Jerusalem.

“The secretary-general is dismayed by the remarks threatening Israel’s existence attributed over the last two days to the Supreme Leader [Ayatollah Khamenei] and the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the UN press office said, and he “condemns these offensive and inflammatory statements.”

The leaders of the region should “use their voices at this time to lower, rather than to escalate, tensions,” the press statement continued. “In accordance with the United Nations Charter, all members must refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.”

The United States also condemned Ahmadinejad’s comments. “We strongly condemn the latest series of offensive and reprehensible comments by senior Iranian officials that are aimed at Israel,” National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said. “The entire international community should condemn this hateful and divisive rhetoric.”

“If Iranian officials are truly concerned about protecting the rights and dignity of all human beings, then Iran should stop supporting [Syrian President Bashar] Assad’s brutal assault on the Syrian people,” Vietor said.

Millions of people demonstrated at more than 500 events across Iran Friday to commemorate al-Quds Day. Waving Palestinian flags and burning Israeli and American flags, throngs chanted “Death to Israel.”

The annual event was initiated in 1979 by Ayatollah Khomeini and takes place on the last Friday of Ramadan, organized by the Iranian government.

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