Netanyahu Brushes Aside Criticism of Costly Iran Policy

YERUSHALAYIM -

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu dismissed an accusation made by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that elaborate preparations for a possible air strike on Iran has wasted billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money.

Olmert told Israeli media on Friday that 11 billion shekels (about $3 billion) were wasted on “illusory security escapades that have not been implemented and will not be implemented.”

“Last year they [Israel’s leadership] frightened the whole world and in the end nothing was done,” Olmert said.

Without mentioning his antagonist by name, Netanyahu responded with a sweeping defense of his government’s expenditures, saying, “Over the weekend, somebody criticized my government over the investments we made in security. Indeed, in contrast to governments that invested billions in the disengagement, we invested billions in building up our strength so as to ensure the security of Israel’s citizens. We invested and we will continue to invest in Iron Dome, which stopped the missiles, in the security fence in the south, which stopped the infiltrators, in cybersecurity, in the offensive and defensive capabilities of the IDF, Mossad and ISA.”

Netanyahu stood by his Iran policy, as well: “Preventing a nuclear Iran was, and remains, my main goal as Prime Minister. Whoever does not understand that a nuclear Iran is [the] most severe threat to our security cannot lead the State of Israel. Not only must one understand this but one must also act both on the international plane and on that of Israel’s capability for action. We have done both of these and will continue to do so if we win voters’ confidence as I believe we will.”

Olmert, who is not running for office in this campaign, has said that he would nevertheless speak out in support of Shaul Mofaz’s Kadima party.