JERUSALEM – Israel's vice prime minister said Iran (search) should be expelled from the United Nations after its new president said Israel should be "wiped off the map," and Britain summoned an Iranian diplomat Thursday to protest the remarks.
Italy on Thursday also condemned the words of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (search), telling the Iranian ambassador the comments were "unacceptable" and that they confirm worries over the political positions — and nuclear intentions — of Iran's new leadership.
Shimon Peres (search), Israel's vice prime minister and a Nobel peace laureate, said it was "impossible to ignore" Ahmadinejad's comments.
"Since the United Nations was established in 1945, there has never been a head of state that is a U.N. member state that publicly called for the elimination of another U.N. member state," Shimon Peres told Israel Radio.
In a speech Wednesday in Tehran, Ahmadinejad said "there is no doubt that the new wave [of attacks] in Palestine will wipe off this stigma [Israel] from the face of the Islamic world."
Ahmadinejad spoke during a conference called "The World Without Zionism."
His comments drew widespread international condemnations.
Britain's Foreign Office said Thursday it intended to summon Iran's charge d'affaires to protest Ahmadinejad's remarks, calling them "deeply disturbing and sickening."
Other world governments on Wednesday issued statements criticizing the Iranian's remarks, including Britain, Canada and Germany.
In Madrid, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos summoned Iran's ambassador to protest Ahmadinejad's comments. French Foreign Minister Jean-Baptiste Mattei also condemned the remarks "with the utmost firmness."
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said Israel protested Iran's comments Wednesday at the United Nations but has not decided whether to ask officially for Iran's removal.
Peres said he would discuss the Iranian threat with Russia's visiting foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, on Thursday.
Israel accuses Iran of developing nuclear weapons and wants the U.N. Security Council to consider sanctions against the Tehran government. Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful.
Lavrov on Wednesday brushed off Israel's calls for Security Council action, saying the matter is "too serious to be guided by politics." Lavrov said that Russia will follow the lead of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is investigating the Iranian nuclear program, and believes that talk of sanctions is premature.
Russia is one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, with veto power over all resolutions considered by the body.