Israel's Prime Minister has said that America's withdrawal from Iraq has placed a new challenge in front of his country. Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset that there is now a "challenge from the east" of a kind which Israel has not had to deal with before. He stressed the importance of the peace treaty with Jordan in this respect, describing it and the treaty with Egypt as "strategic assets". Netanyahu expressed his hope that the elected government in Egypt will appreciate the importance of the peace agreement.
During his speech on Wednesday evening, the Prime Minister addressed his government's policies and confirmed that he expects the building of a road barrier on the border with Egypt "to be completed in less than a year". He told Knesset members that Palestinian resistance factions should understand "that Israel will respond with an iron fist to any attempt to target his country through the Sinai Peninsula".
The budget for the Ministry of Defence will be set in the next few days, said Netanyahu, "so that the military will be able to tackle these challenges without affecting economic and social affairs".