In the UK media today, the Daily Telegraph notes that Israel’s Defence Minister Ehud Barak has called for major powers to speed up efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear programme, cautioning that it would be tougher to confront the issue once Tehran has managed to cross an atomic threshold. The paper also quotes an Iranian official accusing Israel of carrying out the attack against Israeli tourists last week in Burgas, Bulgaria. The BBC reports that the US has warned of increasing risk of a massacre in the Syrian city of Aleppo, as troops surround it. The Financial Times publishes an opinion piece by former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on US foreign policy challenges, including Palestine. The Independent and the Guardian report that the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank has passed the 350,000 mark for the first time after increasing by 4.5% in the past year. The Independent also publishes an opinion piece calling for greater engagement with Islamist forces in the Middle East. The Daily Mail and the Financial Times note US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s upcoming visit to Israel. The Evening Standard and the Daily Mail also note calls for a moment of silence to commemorate 11 Israeli athletes killed in a terror attack during the 1972 Munich Olympics.
In the Israeli media, Israeli Hayom reports that the IDF is reinforcing the defences on the Golan Heights border, in light of concerns that refugees and infiltrators could try to enter Israel in the wake of the violent clashes taking place in Syria. Israel Radio reports that US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta will be arriving in the Middle East next week. Panetta will begin by visiting Egypt and Tunisia to show support for their movement towards democracy. Then he will visit Israel and Jordan to discuss the situation in Syria. Yediot Ahronot and the Jerusalem Post report that the Pentagon has reached an agreement with Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the F-35 stealth fighter plane, for the installation of advanced Israeli air warfare systems, as requested by Israel.
Israel Hayom also reports that Sunday will mark the seventh anniversary, according to the Jewish calendar, of the disengagement from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria, during which over 1,800 families were evicted. The paper also reports on the preparations of the IDF and the Defence Ministry for the enlistment of ultra-Orthodox men to military service when the current law exempting them from army service expires on 1 August. All papers note the expected visit of US Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney to Israel on Saturday. The Jerusalem Post, meanwhile, notes US Ambassador Dan Shapiro’s words that the world powers negotiating with Iran have not decided how – or even whether – negotiations that began in April should continue. The paper also reports that Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh met with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi yesterday and discussed Egypt supports to the Gaza Strip.