Once an ardent advocate of the Greater Israel scheme, Tel Aviv's President Shimon Peres accuses Iran of pursuing a colonialist agenda.
"Sooner or later, the world will realize that Iran wishes to take over the Middle East, and that it has colonial ambitions," Peres said after the meeting with the spiritual leader of the hardline Shas party, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
Tel Aviv has pursued aggressive policies against the Palestinians and is known as an occupying power by the United Nations and thus remains under severe criticism.
Israeli human rights activists, such as Uri Davis, in late 2001 called Israel the "last colonial power in the world" for openly practicing "torture, detention without trial, confiscation of land for security purposes and collective punishment."
A year later, when South African Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu visited the area, he drew disturbing analogies between Israel's apartheid system and that of South Africa under apartheid.
"I've been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa," he said in a speech in the American city of Boston in 2002.
"I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about," Tutu added.
An Israeli historian and leading expert on fascism, Zeev Sternhell, last year explained that the main danger to Israel's existence is "colonial Zionism based on ethnic and religious inequality, which considers itself the exclusive emissary of Jewish history."
Peres, however, attempted to blame Iran for the increasing opposition in the Arab world toward such Israeli policies and predicted a full-blown clash between Muslims.
"The conflict between an Arab-Sunni Middle East and an Iranian minority that wants to conquer it is inevitable," he said, without elaborating on the issue.
Although created under the guise of removing Israeli settlements from Gaza, the Kadima party -- which has Peres as its member -- has fundamental ties with the Greater Israel concept.
"The Israeli nation has a national and historic right to the whole of Israel. However, in order to maintain a Jewish majority, part of the Land of Israel must be given up to maintain a Jewish and democratic state," the party's platform says.
The Greater Israel concept promotes an Israel consisting of the lands it conquered during the six-day war plus the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Although supporters of Israel claim the 1967 war launched by Israel to be legitimate, the international community does not recognize the move. link
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