Netanyahu hits back at claims he denied IDF budget to strike Iran

Netanyahu defended his record on the Iran threat on Tuesday, labelling as “false” claims he had denied funds to the IDF. 

By Donna Rachel Edmunds, World Israel News

Benjamin Netanyahu hit back at accusations that he refused to hand the IDF a budget to mount an operation against Iran while he was prime minister. The former PM countered by questioning whether the “false campaign” against him was designed to soften up the public regarding the current government’s “helplessness against Iran.”

The comments, issued in a statement on behalf of the opposition leader, came in response to a Channel 13 Monday that Netanyahu had denied the IDF Chief of staff Aviv Kochavi the budget required to build the capability for a military attack against Iran three times in 2019 and 2020.

Some 11 billion shekels were allocated for just such an operation in the early days of Netanyahu’s government. However, the prime mister was reported to have refused a request by from Kochavi for the funds, on the grounds that there was no state budget and therefore the funds could not be allocated.

Kochavi is reported to have made the same request twice again, once when Naftali Bennett was defense minister, in November 2019, and again in 2020 when Benny Gantz had taken on the role, each time being denied due to the lack of a state budget.

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“The one who has constantly pushed the defense establishment to budget and be prepared to attack Iran is Prime Minister Netanyahu,” the statement in his defense read.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu is the one who demanded in 2019 that part of the IDF budget be allocated for special means of an attack in Iran. He also defined this before the political-security cabinet and before the Ministry of Defense and the IDF as the “supreme goal for Israel’s national security”.”

Ultimately, the IDF and Ministry of Defense solved the issue by taking early receipt of a loan from America. Following approval by the Attorney General, the funds were approved and the purchase of various armaments was made.

Claiming credit for this move, the statement said, “Netanyahu determined that preparations for an attack on Iran precede other arenas in the IDF’s force building program. Netanyahu was also the one who solved the problem of the budget increase in 2020 by using a special repayment mechanism, which allowed an important addition to the existing preparations for an attack in Iran.”

“All this was done in parallel with additional budgets that Netanyahu transferred to other bodies for the same purpose. This is based on detailed protocols of the cabinet and the security bodies,” the statement added.

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It concluded by denying the claims and mounting a counter attack against the current government over its policy on Iran.

“These false and tendentiousness leaks are a continuation of the attempt to dwarf Netanyahu’s work on Iran and it is to be hoped that this false campaign is not intended to get the public opinion in Israel used to the current government’s helplessness against Iran,” the statement read.

“Had it not been for Netanyahu’s political, operational and budgetary actions over the past decade, Iran would have long ago had an arsenal of nuclear weapons.”

The accusations come amid the backdrop of faltering Iranian-U.S. nuclear talks in Vienna. And Defense Minister Benny Gantz is visiting Washington, where he is discussing with U.S. officials military readiness and a possible drill for a joint strike on Iran.