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The BBC's Jim Muir in Tehran
"All the leaders at the conference stressed the need for action- not just words"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 24 April, 2001, 14:52 GMT 15:52 UK
Iran warns Israel of wider conflict
Palestinian youths throw stones at Israeli forces
All Iranian factions are united behind the Intifada
Iran has urged the Muslim world to rally behind the Palestinian uprising, warning Israel that it risks a wider confrontation.

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Israel should be squeezed both economically and politically.


Watch out for us where you expect us and where you don't expect us

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah
He was speaking at a conference in Tehran in support of the Palestinian Intifada, or uprising, attended by delegates from some 35 Muslim and Arab states.

"Supporting the Palestinian people is one of our important Islamic duties," he said.

Radical groups

Delegates from radical Islamic groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, as well as Hezbollah, were among the conference participants.

Iran's spiritual leader Ayatollah Khamenei
Khamenei called for a political and economic squeeze

Ayatollah Khamenei said the Palestinians should follow the example of Hezbollah, which forced Israeli forces to withdraw from Lebanon.

The reformist Iranian President, Mohammad Khatami, called for sanctions against Israel and demanded that Israeli "war criminals" be put on trial before an international tribunal.

The two-day conference is being sponsored by the Iranian parliament and is aimed at harnessing support for the Palestinian uprising.

Isolation call

The gathering, the second of its kind to be staged in Tehran, is being given huge support by the Iranian authorities.

Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah
Sheikh Nasrallah: Hezbollah success held up as an example
The BBC Tehran correspondent, Jim Muir, says that if there is one thing all Iranian factions can agree on it is the need to support the Palestinian uprising.

Ayatollah Khamenei said Israel's regime was "rotting on the inside" and the new generation of Israelis had no will to defend it.

"First of all this regime must be isolated in the occupied territories, its political and economic lifelines severed, and then the armed resistance against Israel must be continued," he said.

The Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, told the conference his success in driving the Israelis out of southern Lebanon last year should be an example to the Palestinians.

"We must chase down the enemy with unrelenting resistance, just as in Lebanon," he said.

He pledged to continue operations in support of the Intifada.

"I mean what I say, watch out for us where you expect us and where you don't expect us," he said.

Referendum call

The conference secretary, Ali Akbar Mohtashemi, is now a reformist deputy in the Iranian parliament, but he was Iranian ambassador in Syria in the early 1980s and he played a crucial role in establishing Hezbollah.

Mr Mohtashemi said this week that the Middle East peace process was dead and that this conference was aimed at helping consolidate the unity that the Intifada had forged among different Palestinian groups.

The gathering is being attended by a big delegation from the Palestinian parliament as well as other representatives of the pro-Arafat mainstream and by Islamic militant groups.

Its spokesmen on the ground in Palestine have called on the conference not just to produce hot air.

One practical proposal that is likely to be adopted is the idea of calling a referendum among the original inhabitants of Palestine on the country's future.

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See also:

22 Apr 01 | Middle East
Mid-East deadlock continues
23 Apr 01 | Middle East
Palestinian boy shot dead
25 Jan 01 | Middle East
Syria and Iran back Palestinian uprising
14 Nov 00 | Middle East
Muslim leaders condemn Israel
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