Former prime minister of Israel Ehud Olmert has accused his successor, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his government of wasting £1.83 billion on preparations for a war against Iran that did not take place. "Last year they frightened the whole world and in the end nothing was done," he told Israel's Channel 2 radio.
His claim was supported by security officials quoted in the same programme, although they disputed the amount involved. "It's been exaggerated," they said. Instead, they described the expenditure as "investing in necessary security issues in the interests of the state". Olmert, on the other hand, called them "illusionary security escapades that have not been implemented and will not be implemented".
When asked by a journalist about Olmert's allegation, Netanyahu responded: "This is a strange and irresponsible statement. I will not specify the sums of our defence expenditure. We have done a lot to strengthen the IDF, Mossad and Shin Bet [the Israeli Security Services] in various ways."
According to the prime minister, his government has developed "offensive and defensive capabilities" for close and distant theatres [of conflict]. "I think that this is a very important investment for the state of Israel," he added. "Israel must do everything in its power to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons." He reiterated that this would be his "number one" goal after his anticipated re-election later this month.
Israel and the West suspect that Iran's nuclear programme is aimed at developing weapons. Tehran says it is enriching uranium for peaceful purposes only.