The outgoing Defense Minister tells Knesset Foreign Defense Committee in his farewell speech, that no power in region has the ability to attack Israel with ‘air forces & armored divisions.’
“When the world, including our good friends, says ‘don’t worry, we’ll know to take care of even the worst case scenarios’, I say, don’t take that for granted”, Barak said in his parting address to the Knesset Foreign and Defense Committee.
The defense minister and former army chief also told the panel that while Israel faces great security challenges, it is clearly the strongest power in the region.
“There are very complex challenges ahead of us. The Iran threat is not disappearing, Syria is crumbling before our eyes, and weapons transfers to Hezbollah can take place on any day.”
Despite these challenges Barak emphasized Israel’s relative strength in the region saying, “Israel is clearly the strongest country in the Middle East,” adding “we do not expect that there is a power in the region that can attack Israel with air forces and with armored divisions.”
Meanwhile, Committee chairman Avigdor Liberman emphasized the economic challenges of the Defense Ministry, saying that the incoming Defense Minister would have to deal with budget cuts to defense just like all other sectors in society. He said that the minister would also have to confront the issue of equality in service to the state with regard to the haredim and other minorities.
On Thursday, the Finance and Justice ministries circulated a proposed amendment to the state budget law to give the new government 120 days instead of just 45 to pass a budget. In that time, the new finance minister will, by law, have to propose a 2013 budget that cuts projected spending by about NIS 14 billion. On top of that, the incoming minister will have to include either further spending cuts or find several billion shekels of additional tax revenue to reduce the budget deficit to its 3 percent target.
Niv Ellis contributed to this report.
View original Jerusalem Post publication at: http://www.jpost.com/Defense/Article.aspx?id=306014