By Maggie Tait of NZPA
New York, Sept 23 NZPA - New Zealand joined a walk out during Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's attack on Israel in the United Nations today.
Ahmadinejad spoke to a half-empty chamber as he sought to cast himself as a beleaguered champion of the developing world, under attack from rapacious capitalism.
He issued stinging attacks on the United States and its allies without calling them by name.
The US, Britain, Canada, Israel and New Zealand and other countries walked out on the speech, delivered hours after Prime Minister John Key met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Mr Key said the walk out had nothing to do with his meeting beforehand, but was in reaction to comments made.
"The Iranian president just continues to make comments which are deeply offensive and I think countries should demonstrate that they won't sit back and blindly accept the kind of rhetoric we've seen from an Iranian president, which might well be playing to a domestic audience but his comments are wholly inappropriate on a global stage."
The walk out happened around the time of comments about Israel when the Iranian leader said, "The awakening of nations and the expansion of freedom worldwide will no longer allow them to continue their hypocrisy and vicious attitudes."
"How can one imagine that the inhuman policies in Palestine may continue? How can crimes of the occupiers against defenceless women and children and destruction of their homes, farms, hospitals and schools be supported unconditionally by certain governments?"
Mr Key said he had discussed Iran with Mr Netanyahu.
"Clearly from their perspective they see Iran as (a country) that's both financing Hamas and the big stumbling block at the moment -- and I guess the speech from Ahmadinejad will have done nothing but reaffirm to them that that's where the heart of a lot of their problems lie."
He expected Israel would be pleased by the walk out.
"I think there's certainly a feeling from some in the Israeli camp that the United Nations isn't always the friendliest environment towards them."
Mr Netanyahu was aware of the New Zealand leader's Jewish background.
He emphasised New Zealand's wish for peace and a recognition of both Israel and Palestinian territory.
"I said the same thing to the Israelis that I intend to tell the Palestinians tomorrow, which is New Zealand will take a very evenhanded view to this.
"We're not picking sides. It's obviously a very difficult position in the Middle East and there are, by any measure, intractable issues here, but peace in the Middle East is hugely important and we encourage them to continue down a process to try and find lasting peace in the Middle East.
"We support both a Palestinian state and a Jewish state and we'll continue to on a case-by-case basis to try to vote in the United Nations on a very even handed and fair basis."