Shaul Mofaz April 30, 2010 (Alon Ron)
Shaul Mofaz Photo by Alon Ron
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The defense budget will not be getting the NIS 620 million increase requested by the Defense Ministry, after it emerged at a Knesset meeting yesterday that the ministry was planning to pay off debts with the money, rather than use it for army units as requested.

The application had been formulated as a request for money for the air force, Military Intelligence, and the Ground Forces Command. But at a hearing of the Joint Committee for the Defense Budget, headed by Shaul Mofaz (Kadima ), the MKs quickly determined that the ministry planned to use the money to pay some of its debts to various military industries.

As a result, Mofaz refused to put the allocation to a vote.

"It seems that the Defense Ministry is not presenting us with all the budget changes in a transparent manner, as the law requires," Mofaz told the defense establishment representatives at the meeting.

"I want to know the source of every shekel and what it's designated for, and on the basis of that we will decide whether this a worthy budget increase that should be approved.

"The defense establishment cannot simply increase its budget unless there is a cabinet decision on the matter, and even then it needs Knesset approval," Mofaz said.

According to MK Uri Ariel (National Union ): "The prime minister is trying to make the defense budget look smaller than it really is, that's why he approves a certain budget and then tries to work with the defense establishment to find circuitous ways to increase it."