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Israel to boycott Iran’s speech as U.S. sets for sidebar meeting

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Israel announced on Tuesday that ministers attending the U.N. General Assembly session in New York on Tuesday will boycott the scheduled speech of Iran's new leader, President Hasan Rouhani.

Minister Yuval Steinitz, the most senior Israeli representative to the General Assembly, and Israel Ambassador to the U.N. Ron Prosor said to Ynet News that they will not be present in the auditorium when Mr. Rouhani rises to speak.

They're still waiting to hear from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on whether the boycott will take a more dramatic or low-key approach.

Specifically, Ynet News reported, they are not sure if they're going to be sitting in the auditorium when Mr. Rouhani walks to the stage to speak, and then make a dramatic exit, or if they're just going to keep away from the auditorium altogether. Mr. Netanyahu is expected to advise them on this point, they said.

In years past, Israel has been joined in its boycott of Iranian speeches by dozens of representatives from the West — but this year will likely be different, Ynet News reported. Mr. Rouhani is supposed to speak on Tuesday night, hours after President Obama makes his address, leading Israeli politicians to believe that perhaps the two countries will make a more conciliatory showing at the public venue.

The White House is still undecided on how the two leaders will interact.

But set for Thursday, Ynet News reported, Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif — a historic get-together that some see as a sign of the West's willingness to smooth diplomatic relations with Iran and its new leader.

Mr. Kerry's meeting is expected to take place on the sidelines of the General Assembly action and include foreign ministers of five other major nations.

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