October 14, 2010

 Ahmadinejad to visit border area near Israel amid threat

By the CNN Wire Staff
October 14, 2010 8:38 a.m. EDT
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Iran's latest power play
  • Ahmadinejad is currently in Lebanon
  • It is his first state visit to the country
  • An Israeli Knesset member suggests military action
  • Iran
  • Israel
  • Lebanon
Beirut, Lebanon (CNN) -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to visit a region in Lebanon bordering northern Israel on Thursday, amid threats by a member of Israel's leadership.

Ahmadinejad is on a Lebanon tour, his first state visit to the country.

Many Lebanese applaud Iran for helping rebuild parts of their country.

But the visit to Beirut and now the scheduled tour of the border area is ringing alarm bells for some in Israel.

Israeli Knesset member Arieh Eldad has suggested that military action might be needed.

"It is our responsibility to stop anyone who publicly calls for our destruction," said Eldad, who is from the far-right National Union party.

"That responsibility means us doing something and not waiting for the world to do something. If a situation arises in which Ahmadinejad is in the cross-hairs of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces), he should be killed."

The Iranian president is scheduled to visit Hezbollah stronghold villages such as Bint Jbeil and Maroun al-Ras, which were at the heart of fighting in the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel.

Hezbollah is a Lebanese Shiite group with links to Iran, and the United States lists the group as a foreign terrorist organization known or suspected to have been involved with several anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli terror strikes, the State Department said.

The debate has raged in Israel on what to do when Ahmadinejad gets to those areas.

"I think the best thing Israel can do is to make sure President Ahmadinejad goes back to Iran safely and he continues to be the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran because he himself is causing more damage to the regime and helping Israel than any other Iranian president could," said Meir Javendanfar, a Middle East analyst.

Ahmadinejad's visit could be seen as Iran's way of sending a clear message about its influence in the region, especially to the United States and Israel, said Middle East analyst Marc Sirois.

Earlier Thursday, Ahmadinejad gave a speech at the Lebanese University in Beirut in which he charged that western countries were trying to dominate the region.

"What have the western countries done in Afghanistan?" the Iranian president asked. "Ask them where are those terrorists, where in Afghanistan are they hiding? Everything has been ambiguous. But through propaganda and through the media, they have portrayed themselves as liberators."

CNN's Paula Hancocks contributed to this report.