JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel recalled its ambassador to Switzerland for consultations to protest a high-level Swiss meeting with Iran’s president.
A statement issued Monday by the Israeli Foreign Ministry said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman decided to recall Israeli Ambassador to Switzerland Ilan Elgar to protest the meeting of Hans-Rudolph Metz, president of the Swiss Confederation, with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"The meeting of a president of a democratic country with a notorious Holocaust denier such as the Iranian president, who has openly declared his intention of wiping Israel off the map, is not in keeping with the values represented by Switzerland — values that are supposed to be displayed at the U.N. Conference Against Racism (Durban 2), which opened today in Geneva," the statement read. "The incident is further aggravated by the fact that the meeting took place on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day when we commemorate the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust."
Ahmadinejad was the only head of state to accept the United Nations invitation to speak at the United Nations-sponsored anti-racism conference, according to Ha’aretz.
Delegates from 23 countries walked out in protest during Ahmadinejad’s speech. Ahmadinejad was also heckled by a man in a clown suit.
Israeli President Shimon Peres, in a statement Monday, said, "I feel deeply hurt and ashamed that on such a day, there is the opening of a racist conference in Geneva, and the main speaker is who? Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. A man that calls to wipe Israel off of the map. A man who denies the Holocaust," he said.
"There must be a limit, even to the neutrality of Switzerland. Today is the day? This is the man to speak? This is the outlook for the future?"