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Keeping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons ranks above the economy in the challenges facing leaders in the 21st century, Likud head Binyamin Netanyahu told the World Economic Forum on Thursday.
Netanyahu said the global financial meltdown was reversible but the acquisition of nuclear weapons by a "fanatic radical regime" was not. "We have never had, since the dawn of the nuclear age, nuclear weapons in the hands of such a fanatical regime," he added.
The Likud leader also spoke forcefully on the need to lower taxes and increase competitiveness in the Israeli economy if he emerges as prime minister after the February 10 elections.
Earlier Thursday, Netanyahu told Israel Radio that Israel did not complete its attack on Hamas in IDF Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, and said that it was up to Israel to respond to the roadside bomb which killed an IDF soldier on the Gaza border on Tuesday.
"After the murder of the soldier at Kissufim, I said to the prime minister, 'Act immediately, strike powerfully and immediately, [Israel] needs a strong, immediate response,'" he said. "The next government will not have a choice but to finish the job, and to remove terror bases located next to Ashkelon and [close to] Tel Aviv."
On economic matters, Netanyahu said that Israel was entering the global financial crisis in a better state than most countries. He surmised that Israel would be able to overcome the situation quickly if the matter is dealt with in a decisive manner.
He reiterated his opinion that taxes must be lowered in order to deal with the meltdown.