TEHRAN, Dec 8: Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday suggested that Israel be moved to Europe and expressed doubt that the Holocaust occurred. His comments, reported by Iran’s official IRNA news agency from a news conference he gave in Makkah, follow his call in October for Israel to be ‘wiped off the map’, which sparked widespread international condemnation.

“Some European countries insist on saying that Hitler killed millions of innocent Jews in furnaces and they insist on it to the extent that if anyone proves something contrary to that they condemn that person and throw them in jail,” IRNA quoted Mr Ahmadinejad as saying.

“Although we don’t accept this claim, if we suppose it is true, our question for the Europeans is: is the killing of innocent Jewish people by Hitler the reason for their support to the occupiers of Jerusalem?” he said.

“If the Europeans are honest they should give some of their provinces in Europe — like in Germany, Austria or other countries — to the Zionists and the Zionists can establish their state in Europe. You offer part of Europe and we will support it.”

“Why do they insist on imposing themselves on other powers and creating a tumour so there is always tension and conflict?”

Mr Ahmadinejad’s remarks drew swift rebukes from Israel, the US and Germany.

“This is not the first time, unfortunately, that the Iranian president has expressed the most outrageous ideas concerning Jews and Israel,” said Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Mark Regev. “He is not just Israel’s problem. He is a worry for the entire international community,” he added.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said: “It just further underscores our concerns about the regime in Iran and it’s all the more reason why it’s so important that the regime not have the ability to develop nuclear weapons.”

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the EU’s nuclear diplomacy is ‘not made easier by the fact that Mr Ahmadinejad comes up with new ideas, that the people of Israel could move to Germany and Austria, to resolve the ME problem’.—Reuters/AFP

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