Defense industries to export $6b. in goods for second year straight

Israel is on track to sell more than $6 billion in armaments and military technology abroad this year, for the second year in a row, Defense Ministry Director-General Pinchas Buchris told the cabinet Sunday. According to Buchris, Israel's military industries exported some $5.6 billion worth of military equipment in 2007, $6.3 billion in 2008, and so far in 2009 has sold $3.3b. worth of equipment. No details were provided regarding the markets for these goods. During a discussion that followed Buchris's presentation, a disagreement emerged regarding whether Israel should purchase military equipment locally, even if it was more expensive than what could be purchased abroad. While Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz and Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat said that Israeli products should be preferred, Intelligence Agencies Minister Dan Meridor said the Defense Ministry should not be responsible for solving the country's unemployment problem. Meridor said that if Israel could buy more of a weapon it needed abroad than it could if it purchased it here, then it should do so. Netanyahu also called on the Defense Ministry to streamline its procurement offices abroad, something he said it was possible to do.