Iran's supreme leader rejects Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's application for UN statehood [Reuters]

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has assailed a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians, saying the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations is doomed to fail.

Any plan to divide a Palestinian state would be unacceptable, Khamenei said on Saturday, adding that such a state could exist temporarily as part of "liberated territory".

"Our claim is freedom of Palestine, not part of Palestine. Any plan that partitions Palestine is totally rejected," Khamenei told the gathering. "Palestine spans from the river [Jordan] to the [Mediterranean] sea, nothing less."

He added that the Palestinians should not limit themselves to seeking a country within the occupied West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip which would implicitly recognise Israel because "all land belongs to Palestinians."

Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, reacted angrily to Khamenei's speech.

"The declarations of hatred from the ayatollah regime on the intention to destroy the state of Israel reinforces the government's steadfast position for the security needs of Israel's citizens and the demand for recognition of Israel as the Jewish state," Netanyahu said.

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has asked the UN Security Council to recognise an independent Palestinian state in those areas, which were captured by Israel in the 1967 war.

Israel and the US oppose the UN bid, saying there is no substitute for direct peace negotiations. But with Israel continuing to build settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Abbas says there is no point in talking.

Khamenei, who spoke at a pro-Palestinian conference in Tehran, called Israel a "cancerous tumour" that should be removed.

Iran supports the Palestinian Hamas group, which rules Gaza and which does not back the statehood bid pushed by Abbas and his Western-backed Fatah movement.

The conference in Tehran was attended by senior Palestinian leaders, including Syria-based Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal, who told the gathering that "resistance" was the only option left for the Palestinians.

Source: Agencies