Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also spoke out against Ban’s attendance, saying: "To grant legitimacy, however unintentional, to a regime that openly calls for the elimination of another UN member state will stain you and the organization you lead."
But many see Iran’s contentious statements and international isolation as the very reason Ban should attend the conference, focusing on a diplomatic opportunity. Ban has raised the volume on his criticism of Iran's leadership in the leadup to the summit, just last week describing the verbal attack of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Israel as “offensive and inflammatory,” according to the Associated Press.
Mr. Ahmadinejad stated that there was no place for the Jewish state in the Middle East, and in the past has questioned whether the Holocaust of World War II actually happened. Additionally, last week, Mr. Khamenei said Israel would one day be returned to the Palestinian nation and cease to exist.
Nonetheless, a diplomatic source anonymously told Reuters news service that the nonaligned movement is “a very important bloc of nations … [Ban] can’t not go.”