Israel spent too much money on creating an attack plan against Iran, unnamed security sources said Monday, backing up a claim by former prime minister Ehud Olmert over the weekend that his successor, Benjamin Netanyahu, “wasted” NIS 11 billion on plans against Tehran’s nuclear program.
The senior defense officials, who were party to high-level talks on Iran according to an Israel Radio report, said that Olmert raised a valid point when he criticized the current government for spending too much money to fight the Iranian nuclear threat. They added, however, that Olmert overstated the amount Israel allocated to Iran attack plans.
Last Friday, Olmert accused Netanyahu of wasting NIS 11 billion (just under $3 billion) on “harebrained adventures that haven’t, and won’t, come to fruition.”
“They scared the world for a year and in the end didn’t do anything,” Olmert charged Friday, referring to Netanyahu’s ongoing campaign to lead the world into action against Iran’s nuclear weapons program. He sought both the toughening of sanctions and the use of the threat of military strikes to derail the Islamic Republic’s uranium enrichment drive.
The sources said that the decision to prepare a military response to the threat was legitimate, but if Israel had responded with greater caution, it would have been possible to spend less money. They added that several senior officials involved in the discussions opposed spending so much money without an operation being given the go-ahead.
Olmert has not said what the NIS 11 billion sum was spent on, but on Sunday he accused Netanyahu of buying a sixth Dolphin-class submarine from Germany against the advice of defense officials. The purchase of the sub, which Olmert said had a €500 million price tag, was partially subsidized by Berlin.
According to Channel 2, Olmert also accused Netanyahu of diverting funds from other covert operations against Iran to pay for an attack plan. Netanyahu denied the charges, saying he had increased the budget to fight Tehran’s nuclear drive.
On Sunday, Netanyahu dismissed Olmert’s claims as as “bizarre and irresponsible,” and said that his government “did not waste a single shekel.”
“Investing in the security of Israel’s citizens is not a waste,” the prime minister said, insisting that what he had accomplished with defense spending “serves the State of Israel very well. We have developed both offensive and defensive capabilities, for the short and long term.”
Ron Friedman contributed to this report.