Yuval Steinitz asked the prime minister to not only rely on Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
“IDF Radio" (Galei Zahal) reports that Minister of Finance Yuval Steinitz opposes the structure of the NIS 10 billion F-35 procurement deal. He has asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the issue in a broader forum, and not to rely solely on the opinion of Minister of Defense Ehud Barak. Netanyahu has agreed to Steinitz's request, and will decide on a forum to hold the discussion.
Steinitz apparently objects to the F-35 deal because of the US refusal to install Israeli systems on the plane. The F-35 has stealth capabilities. While Barak's bureau describes the F-35 as the most advanced fighter-bomber in the world, there are sharp divisions in Israel and in many other countries about the wisdom of procuring the plane, given its skyrocketing cost.
The Ministry of Defense originally planned to buy 75 F-35s, but Barak announced that Israel will buy just 20 planes, because the final cost will likely $150 million each.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on August 23, 2010
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