PM hits back at Olmert's charge he wasted billions

"Not one shekel was wasted," Netanyahu says, defending his record on Iran after predecessor criticizes "security delirium."

January 13, 2013 09:22
2 minute read.
Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Olmert

Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Olmert [file] 370. (photo credit: Reuters / Pool)


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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu battled back Sunday against charges by former premier Ehud Olmert that he was squandering billions of shekels on security, telling the cabinet that while his government spent billions to protect the country, his predecessors spent billions on the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

“We invested, and will continue to invest, in the Iron Dome that stopped the missiles, the security fence in the south that stopped infiltrators, in cyber defense and in investing in the offensive and defensive capabilities of the IDF, Mossad and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency),” Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu said these enhanced capabilities have been manifest across a number of different fronts, and were on display during Operation Pillar of Defense, an operation he said was “carried out responsibly and wisely” and achieved its aims.

“It is no coincidence that the state’s security situation is the best it has been in many years, despite the dramatic security changes in the region.” he said.

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin also criticized Olmert's comments, accusing him of having "dubious morals," behaving as though he were still prime minister and preaching on television.

"His appearance on television on Friday is part of his election campaign for the 20th Knesset, on the assumption that the next election will be closer than it seems," Rivlin told Likud supporters at Hebrew University.

According to Rivlin, Olmert's desire to be elected prime minister again motivates him to put obstacles in front of Netanyahu, even if he is not running in the January 22 election.

Earlier Sunday, Netanyahu told Israel Radio that "Not one shekel was wasted... when it comes to the security of Israel, there is no waste."

Addressing the Iranian threat specifically, Netanyahu defended his record in the past three years, saying that he worked on two tracks to stop Iran proliferating nuclear weapons.

The first track, he said, was to build international pressure to put sanctions on Iran, "and that worked."

The second track was to build Israel's military operational capabilities to strike the Islamic Republic should it become necessary.

Netanyahu also defended the administration of US President Barack Obama in light of his nominating Chuck Hagel to be the next US defense secretary.

Netanyahu said the US president recently reiterated to him that Israel has the right to defend itself against any threat and that the US is committed to preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. "I, as the Israeli prime minister, have the same responsibility."

"We do not just need the right to defend ourselves, but also the capability to do so," he added.

Netanyahu addressed additional issues at the opening of Sunday's cabinet meeting, praising the police and IDF for swiftly removing the illegal Palestinian encampment in the E1 area. Netanyahu said “we will not let anyone harm the contiguity between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim.” staff contributed to this report.

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