A conservative-leaning Iranian daily defended embattled President Clinton on Wednesday, saying his sex scandal troubles stemmed from a "Zionist" backlash against White House pressure on Israel.

"Clinton's crime was that he simply put pressure on the Zionist regime (Israel) in the occupied Palestine asking them to honor what they had agreed under the framework of the 1993 Oslo accord," the English-language Tehran Times said in an editorial.The newspaper said "Zionist" anger with the president led to the sequence of events culminating in Clinton's address to the nation on Monday.

"There were other U.S. presidents who also in one way or the other had been involved in similar affairs, but they were not treated the way Clinton is being harassed," the daily wrote.

The Tehran Times does not reflect official government opinion, but it is seen as a good barometer of political opinion in conservative circles.