The European Jewish Congress is to file a complaint urging the International Criminal Court in The Hague to bring Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to trial for incitement to genocide.
According to informed sources, the EJC initiative was adopted by an extraordinary meeting of the EJC’s general assembly meeting Sunday in Vienna, Austria.
Austria currently holds the rotating European Union presidency.
The Iranian President, who was elected last year, made repeated statements in recent weeks in which he denied the Holocaust of six million Jews during WWII, calling it a “myth”, and said Israel should be “wiped off the map.”
Based in Paris, the EJC comprises of 40 leaders of national Jewish communities in Europe. Pierre Besnainou, the EJC current President, was elected last year.
According to Besnainou, the EJC is promoting a resolution in the European Parliament calling for the Iranian President to be made “persona non grata ad personam,” within the 25 EU member states.
"None of the member states should invite the Iranian president," Besnainou told a press conference after the meeting, stressing that the Jewish body was not demanding to break diplomatic sanctions of economic sanctions.
"We are asking the EU rather for action than declarations," Ariel Muzicant, head of the Austrian Jewish community, said.
The EJC also intends to encourage prominent politicians, business people and intellectuals in Europe to sign a petition, to be published in European newspapers, calling on leaders in Europe to prevent Ahmadinejad from visiting EU countries.
The European Jewish Congress will be circulating this petition, which will eventually be submitted to the European Parliament and other EU institutions, as well as to member state governments.
The Iranian issue was discussed by the EJC leaders during a meeting Friday afternoon with Austrian chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel.
Austria criticises cartoons
While condemning the Iranian president’s statements on the Holcaust, Austrian foreign minister stressed recently that her country “has have traditionally good relations to Iran. Austrian President Heinz Fischer has criticized the publication of the Mohammed cartoons in a Danish newspaper, which draw violent protests in the Muslim world.
Sources in Vienna recalled that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the leader of the "backgroup" of a killing squad in 1989, when Kurdish leader Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou and two other Kurdish politicians were killed in Vienna.
Austrian authorities caught the killers and let them leave Austria, drawing political protest in the country.
The Austrian government is seeking good relations with the European Jewish Congress, an affiliate of World Jewish Congress, stressing "the EJC also has an important role to play in the EU’s relations with Israel", EU foreign policy commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner told EJP after meeting with EJC leaders on Sunday.
On the issue of Hamas, also discussed during the meeting, the EU’s Austrian presidency position, as defined by Chancellor Schuessel, is that "Hamas will have to recognize Israel and stop violence" in order to be a partner for the EU.
Nevertheless, commissioner Ferrero Waldner wouldnt clearly state that EU would stop financial support to the Palestinian Autonomy, now led by Hamas.
EJC leaders, who asked the EU to refrain from any discussion with Hamas as long as it doesnt recognize Israel, are to meet Monday with Austrian foreign minister Ursula Plassnik and deputy vice-minister for foreign affairs, Hans Winkler.
Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki will meet Monday with the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee in a special session in Brussels, a committee spokesman said.
The idea for the visit came from Iran and showed a readiness in Tehran to "return to a dialogue" with Europe, the spokesman, Thomas Bickel, said.