VATICAN CITY, Oct 28 (AFP) – The Vatican condemned on Friday as "unacceptable" Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s statement that Israel should be wiped off the map.
"The grave events of the past days in the Holy Land have caused great concern in the Holy See, which in unison with the international community strongly condemns all acts of violence: the terrorist attack in Hadera (in northern Israel), the reprisals which followed and particularly grave and unacceptable comments denying the right to existence of Israel," said a Vatican statement.
Ahmadinejad told a conference Wednesday in Tehran entitled "The World without Zionism" that "the establishment of the Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world.
"Anyone who signs a treaty which recognises the entity of Israel means he has signed the surrender of the Muslim world," he added, warning Muslim leaders who recognise Israel they "face the wrath of their own people."
"As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map," he said, quoting Iran’s late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
His comment was the first time in years that a top Iranian official has openly called for Israel’s destruction.
The world community expressed outrage at Ahmadinejad’s inflammatory speech, which Israel now hopes will galvanise efforts to penalise its public enemy number one for its nuclear activities.
The Vatican said that both the Israelis and Palestinians had a right to live peacefully in separate states.
The Holy See "called on all leaders in the Middle East to listen to the ardent desire for peace and justice of their peoples, to avoid acts leading to division and death, and to engage with courage and determination to create the conditions necessary to resume dialog, the only path to ensure a peace and prosperity for all children of this world."
The Vatican statement including the condemnation of the Hadera attack, in which five people were killed in a suicide bombing claimed by the radical Palestinian movement Islamic Jihad, comes three months after a diplomatic spat with Israel over Pope Benedict XVI’s failure to mention an attack on Israel while condemning terrorist bombings in Egypt, Turkey, Iraq and Britain.