TEHRAN (AFP) â€” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday the answer to the conflict in south Lebanon was the “elimination of the Zionist regime”, slamming Israel’s “war against humanity”.
“The real cure for the conflict is elimination of the Zionist regime, but there should be first an immediate ceasefire,” the ISNA agency reported Ahmadinejad as saying from Putrajaya, Malaysia.
Ahmadinejad, attending a summit of Muslim nations aimed at pressing for an end to Israel’s devastating military campaign, also urged that “any aggressor should go back to the Lebanese international border”.
“What is taking place in Lebanon is a war against humanity,” he said, with around 900 mostly civilian deaths in Lebanon from the conflict.
Iran is one of the main backers of Hizbollah, which captured two Israeli soldiers on July 12 to try to secure the release of Lebanese held by Israel, and triggered the massive Israeli onslaught on Lebanon.
Iran, like Syria, has been accused of financing and arming Hizbollah but has always maintained it only gives “moral” support.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair reacted swiftly to Ahamdinejad’s comments, calling them “deeply unhelpful”, restating his position that Iran and Syria should help find a long-lasting, sustainable solution to the conflict.
“The comments of the Iranian president earlier today, that the solution lies in the elimination of Israel, are deeply unhelpful,” Blair told journalists in London.
Ahmadinejad, who has several times called for the Jewish state to be moved somewhere else on the planet, accused Washington of using Israel to further its own objectives.
“The only mission they [Israel] have is to pave the ground for the domination of the big powers. And today the Americans are after the greater Middle East and the Zionist regime is used to achieve this objective,” he told journalists.
Iran refuses to recognise Israel and Ahmadinejad expressed his support for a one-state solution to the Palestinian question in which Jews and Arabs would live together in a non-Jewish state.
“We say the new Middle East will prevail but without the existence of the Zionist regime. It means the existence of a Palestinian state with its own territory. In this all Muslims and Jews will co-exist peacefully on the land.” While calling for Jews and Arabs to live together, Ahmadinejad has also in the past called for Israel to be “wiped off the map” or relocated as far away as Alaska.
As for the idea of deploying an international peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon currently being debated at the UN, he said “the peace and security of Lebanon should be settled by the Lebanese people and government.
“The presence of foreign troops is unacceptable, unless they are under the United Nations command.” “The circumstances should be prepared for the return of the refugees and displaced people, and prisoners should be exchanged,” he added, with over 900,000 people so far displaced by Israel’s 23-day assault.
Ahmadinejad, whose country is also at odds with the West over its nuclear programme, took a swipe at Britain and Iran’s arch-foe the United States.
“The losses inflicted on Lebanon should be paid by the US and Britain that are supporters of the Zionist regime. We also propose that the Islamic nations immediately cut all their overt and covert political and economic relations with the Zionist regime,” he added.