Günter Grass is one of Germany's best-known novelists and intellectuals, and winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize for Literature.
Credit: Sean Gallup

German writer Gunter Grass has been barred from entering Israel.

The decision follows the Nobel laureate's recent poem criticizing Israel, which has been condemned in Germany, the BBC reported.

In the poem, Grass condemned German arms sales to Israel, and said the Jewish state must not be allowed to launch military strikes against Iran.

More from GlobalPost: 'What Must Be Said': Gunter Grass calls Israel 'threat to world peace'

Tensions are running in the Middle East over Iran's nuclear ambitions and there is debate in the US and Israel over whether to launches strikes again Tehran facilities if Iran continues to work toward creating nuclear weapons.

The poem, 'What must be said,' was recently published in Süddeutsche Zeitung.

One section reads "Why do I say only now... that the nuclear power Israel endangers an already fragile world peace? Because that must be said which may already be too late to say tomorrow."

Interior Minister Eli Yishai's office released a statement calling "Gunter Grass persona non grata in Israel" and said the poem is "an attempt to fan the flames of hate against the state of Israel and the Israeli people," according to Agence France Presse.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the poem "shameful." It has also been widely criticized in the author's native Germany which is sensitive about attacks on Israeli policy because it's large role in the Holocaust.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman in Italy for a state visit said "we expect the leaders in Europe to move decisively against such expressions by influential opinion makers, and not to allow them to continue to enjoy mainstream respectability," reported the Jerusalem Post.

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