Steinitz: Defense Ministry Using 'Undemocratic Tricks' to Protect Budget

Comments by Strategic and Intelligence Affairs Minister are latest squabble over budget; aides to Defense Minister Ya'alon: Steinitz should practice before he preaches.

Emil Salman

Strategic and Intelligence Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz accused the Defense Ministry on Saturday of using "tricks" to protect its budget from cuts.

Speaking at an event in the southern city of Be'er Sheva, Steinitz weighed in on the contentious issue of defense budget cuts, a topic which has recently led to a squabble between different government ministries and even prompted a plea for calm from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"There is apparently a real problem in the IDF's budget, and cuts need to be made," Steinitz said. "On the other hand, some of the tricks being used by the Defense Ministry are unacceptable in a democratic country."

According to Steinitz, the military echelon should be kept out of political discussions. "Even if the military doesn't like the decisions, they can't use manipulations."

Former IDF chief Dan Halutz echoed Steinitz's words, stressing that the military answers to the state and that "the chief of staff cannot be part of the political battle."

In response to Steinitz's statements, aides to Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon launched a scathing personal attack. "As far as we can recall, Yuval Steinitz begged to become defense minister, but the fun and games are over," they said. "He would have probably said the complete opposite were he defense minister. In the meantime, we suggest he first examine the unbelievable number of times he went abroad before he preaches to others about frugality. "