Netanyahu: Defense spending not wasteful

"We've developed important offensive capabilities."

On “IDF Radio" (Galei Zahal) this morning, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's remarks on Friday, that the government had wasted NIS 11 billion in the past few years on the defense budget, by developing capabilities which would never be used, such as on attack against Iran. "We've developed important offensive capabilities, and greatly strengthened various capabilities of the IDF, the Mossad, and the Israel Security Agency," Netanyahu said. "We've invested heavily in the past four years. We're number one in terms of capabilities to protect the country and its people, and I am very proud."

"IDF Radio": Could you please detail how much money has been invested?

Netanyahu: "I don’t think that it would be right to give exact details about what and how we've invested. My number one mission was and will be to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. We've invested in this and in other things, and it's good that we've done so. Israel today has capabilities that it didn’t have before, and that's a good thing."

Olmert said NIS 11 billion.

"That's inaccurate. It's not waste but investment in Israel's security. We've already seen some of the results during Operation Pillar of Cloud. Not a single shekel was wasted."

Olmert talked about operative preparations for an attack on Iran.

"He talked about a lot of things, which I cannot discuss. We have the right to defend t ourselves, and there are no rights without capabilities. You only survive in the Middle East if you're strong, and you don’t have that without power."

"I did two things that were not done before. I brought the world round to our view on Iran, and I increased and strengthened our capabilities. There are now very significant sanctions against Iran, and some of this is thanks to the understanding that we have the capabilities to defend ourselves."

But 2012 was the year of decision.

"The goal has not yet been achieved. We're have a common policy of stopping Iran from completing its nuclear program."

Deputy Foreign Minister Moshe Yaalon said that Olmert acted irresponsibly in the media. This has happened to you, too, in the past.

"As a former prime minister, I was recruited countless times to defend Israel in every forum outside the country, against Iran, against the Palestinians, against Hamas, and on other occasions. I also defended Olmert in the Second Lebanon War."

People in the Likud are saying that Olmert is a hollow man.

"I don’t want to get into that. My record is one of responsibility and national missions to protect Israel."

Has President Shimon Peres exceeded his authority in recent days?

"There is no precise determination about the president's authority. I talked with him, and we're trying to reach agreement about what is right for Israel."

Shas co-chairman Aryeh Deri has asked you to close a deal for Shas to join the govermnet.

"I'm not forming coalitions now. After I'm elected, I'll deal with these questions."

Is US Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel good for the Jews?

"I don’t intervene in political appointments by the US president. We'll work with whoever is chosen."

Nine days before the elections, is the prime minister under pressure?

"No. I think that it's proper to bring the facts before the Israeli public. They know that the current defense situation is far better than what it was a few years ago. It's important that they should know the facts."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 13, 2013

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

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