supreme leader predicted the destruction of Israel in comments posted
on his Web site on Wednesday, in some of his strongest remarks in years
about the Jewish state.
In the past, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has
called Israel a "cancerous tumor" that must be wiped from the map, but
the new comments mark the first time in years he has openly speculated
about Israel's demise.
"Definitely, the day will come when
nations of the region will witness the destruction of the Zionist
regime," Khamenei was quoted as saying. "How soon or late (Israel's
demise) will happen depends on how Islamic countries and Muslim nations
approach the issue." He did not elaborate.
Khamenei, who made the
comments during a meeting with the Mauritanian president on Tuesday,
also accused Israel of trying to destroy the Palestinians "through
continued pressure, blockades and genocide." He said the Jewish state
will not succeed.
Khamenei's comments come as the world marks
International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday, the 65th
anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi-run Auschwitz death camp.
Iran does not recognize Israel, and the two countries have been bitter enemies since Iran's Islamic Revolution in 1979, and current Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for Israel's destruction.
is accused of supporting Lebanon's Shi'ite Muslim terrorist group,
Hizbullah, which fought Israel until it withdrew it soldiers from
southern Lebanon in 2000. Hizbullah continues to launch occasional
attacks against Israeli troops in a disputed strip of land on Lebanon's
southern border. Teheran also backs Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip.