Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel's destruction, said on Thursday Israel was "illegitimate" and could not survive.

Ahmadinejad said last year that Israel should be "wiped of the map", echoing comments by the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. That remark caused an outcry in the West and he has not since repeated it.

But he regularly criticizes Israel, a state which Iran has not recognized since the Islamic revolution in 1979, and on Thursday launched a new broadside.

"Our nation has previously announced that this regime is illegitimate from its foundation. It is fabricated. It has been imposed on the nations of the region and it cannot survive," he said in televized speech at a rally near Tehran.

Ahmadinejad was speaking before Quds Day (Jerusalem Day), the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when Iranians show support for the Palestinians.

"The existence of this regime [Israel] is the root of many problems of mankind today," the president said, adding that Israel had been "founded by the major powers in the heart of the Islamic world".

Ahmadinejad's comments, which have included describing the Holocaust as a "myth," have been condemned in Israel and the West.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in May that Iran's leaders had turned Israel "into a target for annihilation". Former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said last year that Iran's nuclear program was the biggest threat to Jews since the Holocaust.

Iran is accused by the West of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, despite Tehran's insistence that it only wants to to make nuclear fuel to generate electricity.

Ahmadinejad said in August Iran was not a threat to any country, "not even to the Zionist regime" - a term Iranian officials use for Israel.