Barak: Cutting defense budget will hurt security

Defense minister slams Finance Ministry for withholding money, damaging Israel's ability to defend itself.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak _311 (photo credit: Reuters/Blaire Gable)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak _311
(photo credit: Reuters/Blaire Gable)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday stated that the Israeli economy has been able to flourish in recent years mainly because of the calm Israel has experienced on the security front, a calm he warned would be damaged if the defense budget was cut.
Speaking before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Barak said that "the defense budget has decreased consistently over the years...with the current instability in the region, this fact alone should end the argument on cutting the defense budget."
Disputing the Finance Ministry's claims that the defense budget had actually gone up recently, Barak claimed that defense spending was slated to account for only 13 percent of the 2012 budget, whereas, 24 percent of the budget had gone toward defense in 1986.
Barak said that Israel was facing its most complicated set of challenges in its history. He said that while the long-term effects of the Arab Spring remained unknown, the turmoil in surrounding states was causing "an increased dimension of uncertainty" in the short-term and the mid-term.
Barak: Cutting defense budget will hurt economy
"The quickly unfolding events require alertness, preparedness and proper deployment from the defense establishment, with Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran also in the background," he stated. Barak rejected a claim by Fiance Minister Yuval Steinitz that the Arab Spring lessened the security threats against Israel by weakening the Jewish State's neighbors.
Barak said that in the face of Israel's security situation and the legitimate social justice demands of protesters the budget should be moderately increased.
The defense minister accused the Finance Ministry of failing to fulfill its agreements.
"Money that the Treasury agreed to transfer to the Defense Ministry is not being transferred and this is hurting security and the economy."