Shin Bet and Mossad Budget Approaches $2 Billion

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Shin Bet head Yoram Cohen.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

The 2014 budget for Israel’s secret services — the Shin Bet security service and the Mossad — is 6.88 billion shekels ($1.97 billion), some 4 percent more than last year.

The Finance Ministry recently published this year's budget adjustments, which the government submitted to the Knesset Finance Committee for approval. The document shows that two weeks ago the Finance Committee approved the transfer of 6.88 billion shekels from Section 47, the general reserves, to Section 15, the Defense Ministry. Outlays for the secret services conditional on state income were also increased to 190 million shekels for 2014, compared to 156 million shekels in 2013.

The budgets of the secret services are always designated as an allocation from the state budget’s reserves, which limits the ability to monitor them. It is unclear, for example, how the sum is divided between the Shin Bet and the Mossad. Moreover, the entire sum is designated as a Defense Ministry increment, even though neither of the secret services answers to the Defense Ministry, but to the Prime Minister’s Office. Last month, a senior defense official complained about this fact, saying it inflates the defense budget in the eyes of the public to some 60 billion shekels, even though the actual budget is considerably lower.

The secret services budget for 2013, 6.63 billion shekels, was a 10 percent increase over 2012, when it was 5.91 billion shekels.

The Defense Ministry budget as presented at the end of last month includes another sum of 4.5 billion shekels that can be allotted by the Prime Minister’s Office for unspecified “special means.” The allocation, which defense officials say is “sacrosanct,” is slated to rise by 13 percent to 5.1 billion shekels next year.

Writing in Haaretz last week, Avner Cohen noted that while Britain invests some 5 percent of its defense budget in its nuclear program, and the United States invests less than 3 percent, Israel invests some 9 percent of its defense budget in special means.

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