Lapid: 'Boycotting Rouhani Speech A Mistake'

Criticizing protocol set by the Prime Minister, Finance Minister Yair Lapid says Israel should not appear to be "a serial objector."

Adam Ross,

Finance Minister Yair Lapid
Finance Minister Yair Lapid
Flash 90

Minister of Finance and Yesh Atid Head Yair Lapid, said Tuesday night that the decision of the Israeli delegation at the UN to boycott the upcoming speech by Iranian President Hasan Rouhani is a mistake.

"Israel should not paint itself as a serial objector to negotiations and as not interested in a peaceful solution. It is for us to show that it is the Iranians who are anti-peace, and not to appear like we are not open to changes." Lapid charged.

Lapid added, "Walking out of the U.N. Assembly and boycotting this speech is not in sync with the current mood of diplomacy."  He also recalled how Arab states had acted employed boycotts toward Israel in the past.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has ordered the government's delegation at the UN not to be present while the speech of the new Iranian president was being delivered. The move is in line with the protocol towards former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who used speaking opportunities at the UN to vilify Israel.

"Despite the recent smile offensive of the new Iranian President, the official policies of the Iranian regime have not changed." Netanyahu said, "even as recently as last week, like his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Rouhani refused to recognize the Holocaust as a historical fact."

He added: "When Iranian leaders stop denying the Holocaust of the Jewish People, and from calling for the destruction of the State of Israel, and start recognizing its right to exist, the Israeli government will give due attention to Iranian speeches at the General Assembly,"

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is expected to speak Tuesday night at the UN General Assembly in New York, just a few hours after the speech made today by US President Barack Obama.

There is an expectation that Rouhani's speech will be moderate in tone, and present more of a conciliatory stance toward the US and the West, than his vitriolic predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. For the first time, Iran's Jewish member of parliament is set to accompany the president to the U.N.

Prime Minister Netanyahu will address the General Assembly in a week's time, during a planned visit to the US in which he is scheduled to meet with US President.