Aharonovitch: Treasury plan will do 'irreparable damage' to police

Barak slams proposed cuts in aid to discharged soldiers.

The Israel Police and the Prisons Service will suffer "irreparable damage" if the Treasury goes ahead with a NIS 1.4 billion cut to the Public Security Ministry, Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch warned on Monday. Aharonovitch said he only learned of the planned reduction on Monday, a day before the cabinet is scheduled to vote on the budget. "In talks held between Aharonovitch and the Finance Ministry, the minister learned of the NIS 1.4b. cut planned for the years 2009 and 2010," the Public Security Ministry said. "Such a cut would come as a complete contradiction to statements made by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, who have talked about the need to significantly strengthen the Public Security Ministry," the statement continued. Tal Harel, a spokesman for Aharonovitch, told The Jerusalem Post the proposed cut would inflict enormous damage on police work. "We'll do everything in our power to stop this from happening," he said. Also on Monday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned that proposed cuts to the defense budget would reduce the IDF's ability to confront the threats facing the State of Israel. "Any attempt to harm the defense establishment's needs will lead us to a grave political crisis and will put the future of this government into question," Barak said during a visit to the IDF Discharge Center in Tel Hashomer. Under the Treasury's plan, the fund that helps newly discharged soldiers will be cut by NIS 35 million. The fund provides university scholarships as well as small-business loans. Barak said the people who worked at the center did "holy work" by assisting soldiers who had given three years of their life to defend Israel to reintegrate into civilian life. "We cannot quantify the value of higher education," he said. "A soldier who studies a profession or in an academic institution is not only ensuring his future but is also strengthening the state and benefiting us all."