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Netanyahu: Israel Increasing Defense Budget

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has announced that Israel will boost its defense spending by about 6 percent this year, or by some $780 million.

Netanyahu said Israel will spend an additional 3 billion shekels on defense in 2012. Citing challenges to Israeli security, Netanyahu said it would be a "big mistake" to cut the country's defense budget at the current time.

"I considered this, given the abundant challenges and threats surrounding us, it would be a mistake, even a big mistake, to cut the defense budget," Netanyahu said.

"I thought, further, that it would be more proper to expand the defense budget at this time. And therefore we are hereby adding 3 billion shekels in real terms."

According to the AFP news agency, Israel's defense budget has previously amounted to around $14 billion, of which $3 billion comes in annual U.S. military aid.

Israel has recently seen the deterioration of its regional alliances with both Turkey and Egypt, and the Jewish-led state remains concerned about threats posed by the Iranian nuclear program.

compiled from agency reports