JERUSALEM, (Reuters) – Israel called Iran”s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "very dangerous" on Friday after he expressed doubt that the Holocaust occurred and suggested the Jewish state be moved to Europe.
"This was not a misstatement or a passing remark," Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told Israel Radio. "It is a systematic way of thinking which is intended to bring about the annihilation of the state of Israel."
Ahmadinejad”s comments drew quick international condemnation, as did his call in October for Israel to be "wiped off the map".
Asked whether Ahmadinejad could be compared to Libya”s Muammar Gaddafi, once among Israel”s most implacable foes, Shalom said: "I would not take him lightly. Such a statement … displays a way of thinking which shows he is very dangerous."
Elaborating on Israel”s concerns, Shalom said "Iran is now developing missiles which can reach the capitals of Europe" and urged that the matter be referred to the U.N. Security Council.
Israel has accused Iran of trying to build nuclear weapons.
The Islamic republic says its nuclear project aims only to produce electricity, not weapons as Washington and others in the West suspect. Israel is widely believed to be the Middle East”s only nuclear power.
Iran”s official IRNA news agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying on Thursday: "Some European countries insist on saying that Hitler killed millions of innocent Jews in furnaces … Although we don”t accept this claim."
"If the Europeans are honest they should give some of their provinces in Europe … to the Zionists and the Zionists can establish their state in Europe," he said.
During their 1933-45 rule, the Nazis killed some six million Jews. Religious hardliners in Iran do not publicly deny the Holocaust occurred but say its scale has been exaggerated to justify the creation of Israel.
Israel accuses Iran of giving arms and funding to Palestinian militant groups such as Islamic Jihad, sworn to the destruction of the Jewish state.
Tehran calls Israel a "terrorist state" and has developed missiles which can reach it. It says it would use them if Israel tried to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities.