TEHRAN, Iran – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday that the U.S.-brokered Mideast peace conference was a "failure" and that Israel is doomed to "collapse," lashing out at the Annapolis gathering that many saw as aimed at isolating Iran.
The comments were the first time in months that the hard-line Ahmadinejad has used such strong anti-Israeli rhetoric, highlighting Tehran's bitterness towards Tuesday's conference, which its closest Arab ally Syria attended.
"It is impossible that the Zionist regime will survive. Collapse is in the nature of this regime because it has been created on aggression, lying, oppression and crime," Ahmadinejad said after a Cabinet meeting, according to state-run television.
"Soon, even the most politically doltish individuals will understand that this conference was a failure from the beginning," he said, the official IRNA news agency reported.
Iran has repeatedly condemned the Annapolis conference, saying it would fail to bring any peace for the Palestinians and warning that it will discredit Arab countries who participated. Iran on Tuesday expresses surprise that Damascus participated in the gathering, though it has stopped short of directly criticizing its ally.
Ahmadinejad said the Palestinian "resistance" — such as Hamas, which is backed by Tehran — must have a say in any settlement.
"Many such meetings have been held but have failed," he said. "If decision is made about Palestine, representatives of the elected Palestinian government and resistance should be there and the rights of the Palestinian people — self-determination, the right of voting and return of refugees — must be recognized," he said.
Ahmadinejad has raised controversy in the West with past predictions of Israel's eventual destruction, including a comment saying it should be "wiped off" or "disappear" from the map — and even critics at home said his inflammatory speeches were needlessly provoking the West against Iran.