Israel on Sunday barred German author Gunter Grass from entering the Jewish state, citing a poem in which he accuses Israel of plotting Iran's annihilation and threatening world peace.

“Interior Minister Eli Yishai declared Gunter Grass persona non grata in Israel,” said a statement from Yishai's office.

“Gunter's poem is an attempt to fan the flames of hate against the state of Israel and the Israeli people,” it quoted Mr. Yishai as saying.

In his poem “What must be said,” the 84-year-old longtime leftist activist wrote of his concern that Israel “could wipe out the Iranian people” with a “first strike” due to the threat it sees in Tehran's disputed nuclear programme.

“Why do I only say now, aged and with my last ink: the atomic power Israel is endangering the already fragile world peace?” reads the poem, which was published on Wednesday in the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

The poem sparked outrage in Israel, with officials from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on down criticising Grass. Mr. Netanyahu on Thursday called Mr. Grass's poem “shameful.”

“If Gunter wants to continue disseminating his distorted and mendacious works I advise him to do it from Iran where he will find a supportive audience,” said Yishai.

Mr. Grass, author of the renowned anti—war novel “The Tin Drum,” sparked outrage in 2006 when he revealed, six decades after World War II, that he had been a member of the notorious Waffen SS.

Israel is the sole if undeclared nuclear power in West Asia.

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