Dichter: Proposed 2009 Budget Neglects Israel's Public Security

Kadima leadership candidate accuses gov't of not doing enough to protect homefront over the last decade.

Public Security Minister Avi Dichter on Saturday said that the proposed 2009 budget - on the agenda for Sunday's weekly cabinet meeting - neglects the security of Israel's citizens.

Dichter made his comments at a conference in Tel Aviv, where he added that there are means available to equip the Israel Defense Forces with systems to defend against rocket attacks by Palestinian militants.

"The rockets are in no way a decree of our destiny," said Dichter. "We must allow the IDF to deploy defense systems that will protect our homes in the homefront, whether in Sderot or Kiryat Shmona.

The former Shin Bet director and contender for the Kadima Party leadership also accused the government of not doing enough over the last decade to develop such defense mechanisms, and of not allocating enough funds to contend with the threat of missiles.

"Only recently, after more than a thousand rockets have been launched from Gaza into Israel, have funds been allocated," said Dichter. "But there is no doubt that it's too little, too late." He added that he plans to emphasize the importance of Israel's security and public security at Sunday' cabinet meeting.

Dichter formally threw his hat into the ring for the Kadima party primary on August 12, lashing out at frontrunners Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz.

Referring to Mofaz's remark in June that an Israeli strike on Iran appeared "unavoidable," Dichter said "I won't rain verbal bombs on Iran and cause oil prices to spike."

"I won't ignore the road map for peace, and I won't search for irresponsible solutions in the form of shelf agreements with the Palestinians," Dichter went on to criticize his competitors in the Kadima race, speaking at a campaign rally in Herzliya. A large photo of Kadima founder Ariel Sharon was directly behind the podium.

Dichter, who was brought into Kadima by Sharon, said he joined the party because he identified with Sharon's vision of revolutionizing politics.