Lebanon a 'satellite' for Iran - Israel

2010-10-17 19:54

Degania Alef - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Lebanon was quickly becoming a "satellite" of Tehran after it hosted a controversial visit by Iran's president.

Netanyahu's remarks came after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad again predicted Israel's destruction, speaking at a packed rally in southern Lebanon just a few kilometres from the border with Israel.

"In the last few days we have heard slurs and insults directed at Israel," he told a weekly cabinet meeting held in northern Israel in honour of the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the first kibbutz, or communal farm, at Degania Alef.

"Lebanon is rapidly becoming a new satellite of Iran. It's a tragedy for Lebanon," he said, in remarks carried by army radio.

On Thursday Ahmadinejad toured the southern Lebanon border region, the heartland of the Shi'ite Hezbollah movement, and addressed a crowd of some 15 000 supporters waving Iranian and Hezbollah flags.

"The whole world knows that the Zionists are going to disappear," he said to thunderous applause in the village of Bint Jbeil, which was devastated during the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah.

Zionists must leave

"The occupying Zionists today have no choice but to accept reality and go back to their countries of origin," he added.

His visit to the south brought Ahmadinejad the closest he has ever been to Israel and was seen as a joint show of defiance with Hezbollah.

Some 1 200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and some 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers, were killed in the 34-day war in 2006.

The border area remains tense, with both Israel and Hezbollah having vowed a massive reprisal to any attack.

Israel has long viewed Iran as its biggest threat because of Ahmadinejad's hard-line rhetoric, his country's controversial nuclear enrichment programme and its support for Hezbollah and the militant Hamas movement ruling Gaza.

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Read more on:    mahmoud ahmadinejad  |  lebanon  |  iran  |  middle east peace

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