Netanyahu: Israel Is World's 'Most Threatened Country'

PM notes faster economic growth needed to finance increasing burden of state's defense needs.

Israel is "the most threatened country in the world," and the rocket attacks its civilian population has suffered are "attacks not experienced by any other state since Britain in World War II," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday.

Netanyahu was giving the closing remarks at the Israel Annual Conference on Aviation and Astronautics. Much of the discussion at the conference centered on missile defense.

"We are faced with enemies who do not conceal their intentions, and who arm themselves accordingly," the prime minister said. "They first attack us physically, and then attack our right to self-defense."

He noted that despite the financial success of Israel's military industries, much money will be needed over the next decade to meet the state's defense needs. These funds can only be secured by faster growth, which in turn can only be achieved by cutting taxes, he argued.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who also spoke at the conference, said the multilayered missile interception system that Israel is now constructing is a necessary condition for any stable political arrangement in the Middle East.

One component of this system is the Israeli-developed Iron Dome, which intercepts short-range rockets. Another component, Magic Wand, is meant to intercept mid-range missiles, while the Arrow 3 system is supposed to be able to intercept long-range ballistic missiles.

Arrow 3 was developed jointly by Israel and the United States. Current estimates put its development cost at around $1 billion, and it is unclear whether Israel will bear 30 or 50 percent of this cost. Military industry sources said Tuesday that if the funding is not delayed, the system can be completed within three years.