Monday, April 2, 2012

MIDDLE EAST WRAP: CLOSER TO WAR?

McDonnell Douglas F-15
A round-up of the Hebrew newspapers in Israel; covering the major events happening in Israel and the Middle East. Haaretz-Maariv-Yedioth Ahronoth-Israel Hayom-The Jerusalem Post-Ynet-Arutz 7 News-Army Radio-Israel Radio-and Makor Rishon 
Most of Israel’s major news websites, including Ynet, Maariv NRG, and Haaretz, lead with a wire story that quotes Foreign Policy magazine that Israel has been granted access to air bases in Azerbaijan on Iran’s northern border. According to the story, senior U.S. administration officials say that Israeli warplanes will be able to take off and land from airstrips in Azerbaijan, and that Washington is “not happy about it.”

American officials are worried about the possible consequences of an Israeli strike against Iran, which now may also extend to the Caucuses, a prospect that disheartens Washington. The Americans watched with trepidation as Israel established stronger defense ties to Azerbaijan. In February, Israel signed a $1.6 billion deal to sell drones and anti-aircraft missile defense systems to Baku. The ties have deepened to such an extent that U.S. officials are convinced that the Azeris have already given Israel the green light to use their facilities for an attack on Iran, according to Foreign Policy.

Makor Rishon, close to the national-religious camp, leads with an above-the-fold story detailing Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Iran. According to the story, Erdogan is seeking to bolster Ankara’s position as a broker between the West and Iran. During his visit, Erdogan sent an unequivocal message to the West. “Nobody has the right to use force against a country whose nuclear activity is geared toward peaceful purposes,” Erogdan is quoted declaring. Turkey has expressed a willingness to host upcoming nuclear talks between Iran and Western powers, with Istanbul mentioned as a possible site. Ankara wants to advance a diplomatic solution to the crisis, though it does not support the sanctions that have been imposed on Iran thus far.

In the other major news story of the day is the fallout from the recently held Kadima primary, which was won handily by Shaul Mofaz. Yedioth Ahronoth carried a poll which shows that a Mofaz-led Kadima would win the same number of seats –12– that it was predicted to win last week, with Tzipi Livni at the helm. This doesn't look like good news for Mofaz, since parties who have just held primaries normally see a significant bounce in support in the immediate aftermath.  

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