Defense Minister Ehud Barak continued to slam Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz
for calling for increased supervision of the defense budget, leading Finance
Committee chairman Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) to call on Thursday for
the ministers to end their battle.
“The US is watching the public debate
about transparency in the budget, and it’s not helping the state,” Gafni
In recent weeks, Steinitz has publicly called for a lower and more
transparent defense budget, which Barak has rejected.
On Thursday, during
a Finance Committee meeting, Barak said that his ministry must be free to manage
its own budget, and he will not allow the Finance Ministry to intervene in
matters of defense.
“I’m responsible for the security of Israel’s
citizens, and I am not prepared to fail. If we give the Treasury the right to
veto our decisions, it will directly influence our security,” Barak
Barak also said that Defense Ministry decisions can take years
to implement, while other must be made immediately, making it difficult to
report to the Finance Ministry as thoroughly as other ministries do.
Defense Ministry’s DNA is problematic,” ministry director-general Udi Shani
explained in the meeting.
“When we have an ad hoc mission [that increases
spending], it does not mean that we decrease training or stop longterm purchases
At the same time, MK Uri Ariel (National Union) told the
Defense Ministry that it is “constantly breaking the law,” for not sending
detailed expense reports to the Finance Ministry about changes of over NIS 30
“Saying that this is your DNA is not a good enough excuse,” he
Defense Ministry accountant- general Tzachi Malach essentially
said that the ministry’s methods make full transparency impossible. He explained
that he’s unable to supervise IDF funds before they are used, and authorizes
spending only after it happens.
At times, Malach said, this leads to the
ministry’s spending going beyond its budget.
Malach added that this
method, which allows for “risk management,” is the source of conflict between
the Defense Ministry and the Finance Ministry.
However, Barak disagreed
with Malach, saying that Steinitz is the source of conflict, and that the
finance minister is ridiculing the public and the Finance Committee.