Iran General NewsBrown warns Iran to end 'totally abhorrent' threat to...

Brown warns Iran to end ‘totally abhorrent’ threat to destroy Israel

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ImageThe Guardian: Gordon Brown will today recall the Holocaust as he delivers a blunt warning to Iran to end its "totally abhorrent" threat to destroy Israel, calling on Tehran to abandon plans to develop nuclear weapons.

The Guardian

PM to tell Knesset Britain will back 'right to exist'
Echoes of Holocaust as Ahmadinejad singled out

Nicholas Watt in Jerusalem

ImageGordon Brown will today recall the Holocaust as he delivers a blunt warning to Iran to end its "totally abhorrent" threat to destroy Israel, calling on Tehran to abandon plans to develop nuclear weapons.

In the first speech by a British prime minister to the Israeli parliament, Brown will declare that Britain will stand by the country when its "very right to exist" is under threat.

Brown's remarks will be seen as a signal that Britain could be prepared to support a military strike against Iran if all other diplomatic routes fail, including a tightening of sanctions. The prime minister will tell Israeli MPs: "Britain is your true friend. A friend in difficult times as well as in good times, a friend who will stand beside you whenever your peace, your stability and your existence are under threat."

Brown will single out Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, who has said that Israel should be wiped from the map. The prime minister will say: "To those who question Israel's right to exist, and threaten the lives of its citizens through terror, we say: the people of Israel have a right to live here, to live freely and to live in security. And to those who believe that threatening statements fall upon indifferent ears we say in one voice: that it is totally abhorrent for the president of Iran to call for Israel to be wiped from the map of the world."

Brown will stop short of endorsing the comparisons made by many Israeli politicians between Ahmadinejad and Hitler. The prime minister's speech today, his toughest to date on Tehran, follows an inconclusive meeting with Iran's negotiators on Saturday in Geneva. Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, has given Iran two weeks to sign up to a package of economic and political support in return for halting the enrichment of uranium.

Brown will make clear today that the EU will intensify sanctions if Iran does not comply. "Iran now has a clear choice to make: suspend its nuclear programme and accept our offer of negotiations or face growing isolation and the collective response not of one nation but of many nations," the prime minister will say.

Brown's speech marked the end of a two-day visit to Israel and the West Bank, following a one-day visit to Iraq, that was carefully balanced to appeal to both sides in the conflict.

In a visit to Bethlehem, which he reached by passing through Israel's controversial separation barrier, Brown announced an extra $60m (about £30m) emergency funding to the Palestinian Authority. This is on top of $500m pledged by Britain over three years until 2011.

Speaking at a press conference with the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, Brown said: "While security is key, Palestinians also need to see real change in their daily lives and that means jobs, housing and basic services."

Brown chose his language with care as he said Palestinians needed to do more to ensure Israel can live in peace. But he indicated that the Israeli security barrier is depriving Palestinians of human rights and he called on Israel to stop building settlements in the occupied West Bank, which are illegal under international law.

Brown said: "As a child I learned about Bethlehem from the Bible as a symbol of peace and a symbol of hope. But today the wall here is graphic evidence of the urgent need for justice for the Palestinian people, the end to the occupation and the need for a viable Palestinian state … There are undoubted problems, the freezing of settlements, stopping of the violence."

The prime minister balanced his visit to the West Bank by symbolically starting the day with a visit to Yad Vashem, Israel's official Holocaust memorial museum. He spent an hour with his wife Sarah touring the museum, which chronicles the Nazi extermination programme.

Brown put on a skull cap to rekindle the eternal flame in the Hall of Remembrance and to lay a wreath over the ashes of victims of the six Nazi extermination camps. He wrote in the visitors' book: "Nothing prepares one for the story that is told here – of the atrocities that should never have happened and the truth that everyone who loves humanity should know."

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