By Dan Williams  Fri Aug 10, 2012 12:57pm GMT

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's prime minister and defence minister would like to attack Iran's nuclear sites before the U.S. election in November but lack crucial support within their cabinet and military, an Israeli newspaper said on Friday.

The front-page report in the biggest-selling daily Yedioth Ahronoth came amid mounting speculation - fuelled by media leaks from both the government and its detractors at home and abroad - that war with Iran could be imminent even though it might rupture the bedrock ties between Israel and the United States.

"Were it up to Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, an Israeli military strike on the nuclear facilities in Iran would take place in the coming autumn months, before the November election in the United States," Yedioth said in the article by its two senior commentators, which appeared to draw on discussions with the defence minister but included no direct quotes.

Spokesmen for Prime Minister Netanyahu and Barak declined to comment.

Yedioth said the top Israeli leaders had failed to win over other security cabinet ministers for a strike on Iran now, against a backdrop of objections by the armed forces given the big tactical and strategic hurdles such an operation would face.

"The respect which in the past formed a halo around prime ministers and defence ministers and helped them muster a majority for military decisions, is gone, no more," Yedioth said. "Either the people are different, or the reality is different."

Israel has long threatened to attack its arch-foe, seeing a mortal menace in Iranian nuclear advances and dwindling opportunities to deal them a blow with its limited military clout. Washington has urged Israel to give diplomacy more time.

The war talk is meant, in part, to stiffen sanctions on Tehran - which denies seeking the bomb and says its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes - by conflict-wary world powers. Israel and the United States have publicly sought to play down their differences, the latter saying military force would be a last-ditch option against Iran.   Continued...

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