Ahmadinejad Rebuffed at U.N.

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed a half-empty chamber at the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, Army Radio reported.

Before the Iranian head of state began speaking, representatives of the U.S., Israel and Canada had already left the chamber as a statement against Ahmadinejad's campaign of Holocaust denial.

Those remaining in the chamber listened to his tirade against the "Zonist regime" (Israel), the United States and the West, until he began accusing Israel of committing genocide in the Gaza Strip last winter.

At that point, the French delegation led representatives from Germany, Denmark, Italy, Britain, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Costa Rica, and Hungary out of the chamber.

Ahmadinejad accused Israel of  "inhuman policies" and "barbaric" behavior during its three-week military operation in the Gaza Strip last December and January, asserting that "the brutalities in Gaza have not all been published."

"The international community is impatiently waiting for the murderers of the defenseless people of Gaza," he said.

Later, in an apparent anti-Semitic slur, he claimed that "a small minority" controls the world's economy, culture and politics.

"Ahmadinejad didn't say anything new," Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Army Radio by phone from New York.

"What's important is the international response. Most countries of the free world got up and left, and that proves that our determination pays off," he said.

Mark Kornblau, spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations said it was "disappointing that Mr. Ahmadinejad has once again chosen to espouse hateful, offensive and anti-Semitic rhetoric."

Israel's ambassador to the UN, Gabriela Shalev, said the Iranian president's "hate speech reiterates the danger Iran poses."

"Ahmadinejad revealed, yet again, his true nature, for while he tortures his own people and represses citizen protest, he has the courage to say Israel was committing genocide," Shalev said.

Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeir called Ahmadinejad's genocide accusations "intolerable."

"This president is a disgrace to his country," Steinmeir said.

Sources: The Associated Press, The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz

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