Manama: Israel is urging the Lebanese government to prevent Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from visiting the Lebanese border and reportedly hurling stones at Israel.
The Iranian leader will make a two-day visit to Lebanon on October 12 and is slated to visit the southern Lebanese village of Bint Jbail where he will deliver a speech. He will also visit neighbouring Maroun Al Ras which witnessed some of the fiercest fighting between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006. Both villages are within a few kilometres from Israel.
Last week, London-based Al Quds Al Arabi reported that Ahmadinejad will inaugurate a park in Bawabat Fatima and will hurl stones at Israel in a symbolic gesture that reflects Iran's policy and animosity towards Israel.
However, Israel has been engaged in military, diplomatic and public relations preparations and conducting security evaluations in the days preceding the visit, Israeli daily Haaretz reported, quoting a top-ranking Israeli official.
According to the report, Israel has, over the past week, sent messages to Lebanese Prime Minister Sa'ad Hariri and President Michel Sulaiman through UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the US and French governments, saying that Tel Aviv viewed Ahmadinejad's visit close to Israel's border as a provocative measure that could undermine regional stability and should therefore be cancelled.
Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Ban at the UN headquarters in New York that Israel was "extremely worried" about the Iranian president's visit.
Sources in Israel that the paper did not name said even before Israel asked Lebanon to reconsider Ahmadinejad's visit to the country's south, senior US and French officials had already initiated moves independently.