Foreign Ministry bucks trend

With most other government ministries complaining bitterly about deep cuts that will need to be made in their programs as a result of the new budget, senior Foreign Ministry officials were smiling Wednesday, pleased their ministry's budget would actually be increased. One Foreign Ministry official, who did not yet have all the numbers, said the ministry would be spared the across-the-board budget cuts, and would be allowed to enlarge its hasbara budget, with an emphasis on the much touted rebranding plan; open three new diplomatic missions abroad; increase its number of employees; and open a new course later in the year for new cadets. In addition, he said, the ministry would receive a "special supplementary" allocation for diplomatic efforts, an allocation believed to be earmarked for diplomatic efforts vis-à-vis Iran. The official attributed the decision to increase the ministry's budget to the fact that the ministry has been badly under-budgeted in recent years, the diplomatic challenges the country faces were clear to all, and to the strength in the coalition of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. "That definitely had something to do with it," the official said of Lieberman's impact.