Knesset c'tee approves defense budget with a warning

Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee requires Defense Ministry to provide more details on budget before approval.

IDF troops survey golan heights 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
IDF troops survey golan heights 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Defense Ministry will have to give more details on its budget for 2014 to get final approval from the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, according to a committee vote Monday.
The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee approved the 2013 defense budget – NIS 52.5 billion – but only approved the NIS 51 billion budgetary framework for 2014, without voting on the full budget plan.
“The rules of the game changed. If the defense system doesn’t give us a detailed budget, we will not approve the transfer of funds,” committee chairman Avigdor Liberman (Likud Beytenu) said.
MKs in the committee complained that the Defense Ministry did not give sufficient details on how it plans to use its budget.
However, the committee approved the budget framework for 2014 because otherwise it would prevent the entire government budget from passing in the Knesset, which would lead to new elections.
Only MK Eitan Cabel (Labor) voted against the 2013-2014 defense budget.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said he would return to the committee within 45 days with a more detailed budget plan so that it can be fully approved.
“I agreed that the Defense Ministry budget be cut because we need to help carry the burden, but to begin with, there was a planned cut of NIS 3 billion. Now there’s a cut of NIS 7 billion in the next year and a half, and for us, that is not really possible. It’s a risk that cannot continue for a long time,” Ya’alon explained.
He said the IDF needs funds to train more reservists, and called to return to a multi-year plan “that is possible to work with, and doesn’t just deal with numbers that aren’t connected to what the Defense Ministry does, or the level of security we want to give Israel’s citizens.”
“There’s no doubt that the challenges the defense system faces today are growing,” Liberman responded, “but at the same time we cannot ignore the deficit.”
Liberman concluded the meeting by saying the Defense Ministry has until November 1, 2013, to submit sufficiently detailed plans to the committee, or the MKs will not authorize any funds for defense needs.