Israel Calls Iran Its Greatest Threat

from The Associated Press^

UNITED NATIONS September 20, 2006, 9:01 p.m. ET · The Israeli foreign minister on Wednesday warned that Iranian leaders pose the biggest threat to international values as they "speak proudly" of their wish to destroy Israel and pursue weapons to achieve that objective.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told the annual U.N. General Assembly session that the international community must stand up against Iran, which she claimed is pursuing the weapons to destroy Israel, a reference to its suspect nuclear program.

"There is no greater challenge to our values than that posed by the leaders of Iran," Livni said. "They deny and mock the Holocaust. They speak proudly and openly of their desire to wipe Israel off the map. And now, by their actions, they pursue the weapons to achieve this objective, to imperil the region and to threaten the world."

She said that Iran's support of the Islamic militant group Hezbollah in south Lebanon showed the threat it poses to the region. The world must now ensure that it enforces the U.N. Security Council resolution that ended more than a month of fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, Livni said.

Livni struck a more conciliatory tone toward the Palestinians, saying the two did not necessarily have to remain at odds and the only way to resolve their conflict was at the "bilateral negotiating table."

"We have no illusions about the difficulties before us -- we must face them and not ignore them," she said.

Livni met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the U.N. a day before the General Assembly session began, and both described the meeting as positive. In her speech, she reiterated their desire to reopen a serious dialogue, including with the creation of a permanent channel "to pursue ways to advance together."