sneh 298 aj.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Calling for greater and tougher sanctions against Teheran, outgoing Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh Monday criticized the way Israel was preparing for the Iranian nuclear threat, claiming that essential intelligence, offensive and defensive projects were being delayed due to a lack of government funding.
"I am not satisfied with the funding that is being allocated to the defense establishment and the IDF to deal with the Iranian threat," Sneh, who is being replaced Tuesday by Labor MK Matan Vilna'i, told military reporters during a farewell briefing at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv. "We do not have all the resources needed to deal with the Iranian threat."
Sneh told The Jerusalem Post that hundreds of millions of shekels were missing annually from the defense budget needed for projects designed to assist the IDF in confronting the nuclear threat.
While refraining from giving further details due to the sensitivity of the issue, Sneh said that the projects had been "financially watered down" and that they included new developments in the IDF's offensive, defensive and intelligence capabilities. Israel, he said, was a country under threat and, as such, could not afford to neglect these projects.
"There are projects that are not progressing at the right pace," Sneh said. "Some of them could have been completed years ago had they not been financially watered down." Sneh said that there had been recent advancements in diplomatic efforts to stop Iran, but sanctions needed to be toughened and increased for them to be effective.
"The regime in Teheran is actively supporting terror operatives in Jenin, Khan Yunis and Lebanon, but is anyone doing anything to stop it?" he asked. "This regime needs to be politically and financially isolated."
Sneh added that while the United States was leading the diplomatic efforts to stop Iran, there was no "operational cooperation" between Israel and the US concerning preparations for a possible military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. Iran, he said, would most probably cross the technological threshold and succeed in enriching uranium at an industrial level between 2009 and 2011.
Turning to Syria, Sneh said a number of Israeli "feelers" were met with a response by Damascus that did not allow the resumption of peace negotiations.
"Until now, no dove that we had sent there came back with an olive branch," he said. "If they want to open the door to peace, they know which tree we hide the key in."
During his eight-month tenure as deputy defense minister, Sneh was responsible for coordinating efforts to rehabilitate the home front in the aftermath of the Second Lebanon War. He said that in recent weeks, the Treasury agreed to allocate NIS 110 million to renewing the public's gas masks, a project that had been held up over the past year due to a lack of funding.