Netanyahu Rejects Olmert's Claim He Spent Billions on 'Military Delusions'

Olmert told Channel 2 over the weekend that Israel has 'scared the entire world' but accomplished nothing with regard to Iran; Netanyahu tells Army Radio: Olmert's remarks are 'irresponsible and peculiar'.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday rejected former premier Ehud Olmert's criticism that he had spent billions of shekels on "military delusions", in reference to the current Israeli government's handling of the Iranian nuclear threat.

"That is an irresponsible and peculiar statement," Netanyahu said of Olmert's remarks, telling Army Radio: "[I] will not divulge details of defense spending, but I can say that we developed capabilities in arenas both near and far, and that is an important investment."

Olmert said in an interview with Channel 2's Ulpan Shishi program that the defense figures in question "go well beyond the multi-year budgets". 

Such operations “will never be carried out, because 2012 was the decisive year," added Olmert. "Throughout last year they scared the entire world, but in the end nothing was done.”

Netanyhau responded that Israel had in fact "greatly strengthened the various capabilities of the Israel Defense Forces, the Shin Bet, and the Mossad. The numbers [Olmert presents] are inaccurate, and do not reflect reality... we have the full right to defend ourselves, and there is no right without capabilities."

"Iran is currently holding at the red line I specified in the UN," Netanyahu added. "The goal has not yet been accomplished. We all face the objective together, to stop Iran's nuclear program, and that is my first priority as prime minister."

During the interview with Army Radio on Sunday, Netanyahu was also asked about the evacuation of the "Bab al-Shams" tent city erected in the E-1 area of the West Bank by Palestinian activists.

"We evacuated the tents and acted according to the law," said Netanyahu. "I respect the court's decision, although I did not understand it. They have no place to be there."

"I immediately called for the area to be closed off so there would not be large gatherings," said Netanyahu.

Asked when the government's plans to expand settlements in the E-1 area would be carried out, Netanyahu replied: "It will take time. We will continue to advance construction in every area of Israel. We will finish planning, and there will be construction. It is a process, it is not an issue of days, it will take time."

In response to the nomination of Chuck Hagel for the position of U.S. Secretary of Defense, Netanyahu said: "I do not get involved in political appointments made by the President of the United States. We will work with whoever is chosen for the job."

Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Olmert at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, April 1, 2009.Credit: Daniel Bar-On

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