'Media reports on Iran cause 'tremendous damage''

Lieberman says 99% of reports on Iran are false; Begin: Press attention on discussion of possible Iran strike worse than acts of Anat Kamm.

IAF F15s refueling in-flight 311 (R) (photo credit: Baz Ratner / Reuters)
IAF F15s refueling in-flight 311 (R)
(photo credit: Baz Ratner / Reuters)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday said that 99 percent of what is being published in the media in relation to a strike on Iran "has no relation to the truth." The foreign minister was responding to a question about whether he had been convinced to support such a strike. Nonetheless, he said that the media reports had caused "tremendous damage."
In an interview with Israel Radio, Lieberman stressed that bringing private discussions from inside the security establishment into the public domain "is madness."
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Lieberman also discussed sanctions on Iran, saying that "the international community has much more to do on the Iranian issue."
"We expect that the international community imposes sanctions," which he said are needed on the Iranian Central Bank and on the Iranian oil industry.
Minister-without-portfolio Benny Begin also slammed the Israeli media's conduct surrounding talk of a possible IDF strike on Iran in an interview with Army Radio Wednesday morning. "There has never been a breakdown of responsibility and a campaign of recklessness like there is today," Begin said.
Last week, Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot ran a front-page column entitled, "Atomic Pressure," which alleged that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are in the midst of a campaign to convince cabinet ministers of the necessity of striking Iran's nuclear program.
The media attention, Begin said, "pales in comparison to the acts of Anat Kamm, for which she was sentenced to four and a half years in prison," echoing sentiments expressed by Intelligence and Atomic Energy Minister Dan Meridor Wednesday in a Ma'ariv op-ed.
Seemingly referring to former Mossad chief Meir Dagan's push in recent months to discredit the necessity of a military strike on Iran, Begin said that public servants "swore to guard state secrets forever, also after they leave their positions."
Making such discussions public, he added, "can present real damage to the government's abilities to make decisions."
Former National Security Council head Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Giora Eiland countered Begin's attack on public discourse on the Iranian issue, saying that such debate is natural.
"It's hard to take a topic that the prime minister declares to be the most important to the state of Israel and then prevent public debate about it," Eiland told Army Radio.
"It is only natural that the media took an interest in it," he added.
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