(NEW YORK) — The United States delegation to the United Nations boycotted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech to the U.N General Assembly on Wednesday to protest the anti-Israel views Ahmadinejad has perpetuated this week during a spurt of media interviews.
The fiery leader, who has repeatedly called for the destruction of the Jewish state of Israel and denied the existence of the Holocaust, spoke Wednesday on one of Judaism’s holiest days, Yom Kippur.
“Over the past couple of days, we’ve seen Mr. Ahmadinejad once again use his trip to the U.N. not to address the legitimate aspirations of the Iranian people but to instead spout paranoid theories and repulsive slurs against Israel,” Erin Pelton, a spokesman for United States U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, said in a statement.
“It’s particularly unfortunate that Mr. Ahmadinejad will have the platform of the U.N. General Assembly on Yom Kippur, which is why the United States has decided not to attend,” Pelton said.
A bipartisan group of 14 U.S. House members pushed a resolution on Monday demanding that President Obama pressure the United Nations to move or cancel Ahmadinejad’s speech, saying it was “offensive” and “insensitive” that the “Anti-Semitic” leader speak on Yom Kippur.
The United States as well as other Western delegations have traditionally walked out of the assembly hall in protest when the Iranian president speaks.
During his United Nations speech last year, the American delegation walked out after Ahmadinejad insulted the U.S. for killing Osama bin Laden and suggested that the Sept. 11 attacks was a conspiracy. Most European countries left in protest after he questioned the Holocaust.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Holly Yan and Yoko Wakatsuki, CNN Newswire
Ashley Fantz, AnneClaire Stapleton and Ed Payne, CNN Newswire