Budget cuts to delay security fence

Add to defense budget necessitated a cut of NIS 500m. to barrier construction.

barrier jenin 88.298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
barrier jenin 88.298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A budget cut approved by the cabinet on Sunday will delay construction of portions of the security fence until 2008, according to an Israeli official. The decision to add 1.8 NIS billion to the Defense Ministry's operational budget necessitated moving NIS 1b. from defense-related projects, including NIS 500 million from the security barrier, said the source. Work on the security fence began in 2002 after Operation Defensive Shield and proceeded rapidly, with more than 150 kilometers built the first year. Then the pace slowed. At the start of 2006, defense officials estimated that the fence could be completed by the end of 2007. The Defense Ministry did not comment on the report of the barrier's possible delay. In generating funds for the Defense Ministry, the cabinet also approved a 3.5 percent slash to all departments, for a total of NIS 870 million. The move came less than 84 hours after the Knesset passed the 2007 budget. But according to Knesset Finance Committee officials, it was not unusual for the government to adjust the budget in this manner. Even though his ministry was benefiting from the cuts, Defense Minister Amir Peretz opposed the move, which had the support of 12 ministers. The cuts are not expected to heavily affect welfare efforts, the health basket, higher education, public security and recovery operations in the North.