Director-General Udi Shani of the Defense Ministry spoke out, Monday, against the impact of cuts in the ministry budget on the Merkava Tank development project. Addressing a special session of the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee on the potential loss of 8,000 jobs if the project is shut down, the reserves general said, "The possible meaning of a cut in the defense budget is a significant blow to small and medium industries.These enterprises have loads of invaluable knowledge and every effort should be made so that they are not closed."
Calling the Merkava a national flagship project, he said, "The Ministry of Defense will fight for the Merkava as it fought for a blue and white (Israeli) satellite and other systems. We aspire that our armored force strength will be among the best there are in the world with an active defense." He noted that exports from the Merkava industry total about $ 700 million annually, almost four dollars returning to the economy with factories located in the periphery enjoy prioritization tenders.