(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file[)
The Knesset’s Joint Committee for the Defense Budget refused to vote Tuesday to
approve an addition of NIS 700 million to that budget.
Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) said he expected Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz to explain
personally before the committee the sources of the expanded budget, as well as
the intended purposes of the additional funds.
Mofaz said he was
concerned that the funding might come from the across-the- board cuts already
proposed by the government, which were supposed to take into account tax income
lost due to lowered gas, public transportation and water prices.
Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman also demanded to know why the
addition was not included in the official budget, which was passed less than two
Mofaz’s concerns were not the only topic discussed Tuesday in
closed-door meetings of Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee
After a week’s delay, Defense Minister Ehud Barak appeared
before the Subcommittee on Intelligence Affairs to explain the basis for his
decision not to prolong the service of former IDF chief of General Staff
Lt.-Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi (res.).
Ashkenazi, who was officially
replaced by Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz on Monday, was known to have extremely
cool relations with the defense minister, and in recent days, speculations have
circulated regarding the basis for the poor dynamic between the two.
the past, Barak hinted publicly that his reasons for not extending Ashkenazi’s
term were “ethical and professional, at the highest level,” but he has not
Barak’s troubles at the Knesset, however, continued
into the afternoon. Later Tuesday, veteran Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee
member Arye Eldad (National Union) filed a letter of complaint with Civil
Service Commissioner Ehud Prauer against Barak aide Ruth Bar, who, he said, had
intentionally delayed handing over data to the Knesset’s Research and
In the letter, Eldad said that for over a year and a
half, he and fellow MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) had submitted repeated requests for
data regarding enforcement of building and planning laws in the West Bank. Bar,
he complained, had intentionally stonewalled the request for the data, which
Eldad wishes to present before the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.