Finance Committee Wants Minister Ya’alon to Explain the Defense Budget Himself

Defense Ministry to receive supplemental allocation of seven billion shekels for the summer's military campaign in Gaza.

AP

For the first time, Knesset Finance Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky (Habayit Hayehudi) has asked Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to come in person to present next year’s defense budget to the committee members. It is not clear, however, whether Ya’alon will do so.

“There is opposition in the Finance Committee to increasing the defense budget,” Slomiansky explained. “We will not allow increased funding for the defense establishment to come at the expense of cuts to the education, health and social welfare budgets. If they want to increase the defense budget, they should find other funding sources. It should not come at the expense of these ministries. In recent instances in the past in which the Finance Committee approved the increase in the defense budget, I demanded that the funding not come from these ministries.”

In addition, in the near future the Finance Ministry will submit a request to Slomiansky’s committee for approval of a transfer of an additional 3.6 billion shekels ($925 million) for this year’s defense budget. The Finance Committee chairman has said that he expects the request to be granted since there is a cabinet decision on the matter.

“Based on the agreement in the cabinet, the Defense Ministry will be receiving a supplemental allocation of 7 billion shekels in 2014 for Operation Defensive Edge,” Slomansky said, referring to the military expenses by incurred last summer’s fighting with Hamas and its allies in the Gaza Strip. “Recently the defense establishment received a supplement of about 2.4 billion shekels for 2014, and therefore the Finance Ministry will have to transfer another billion shekels shortly,” he said, referring to a request beyond the 3.6 billion shekels.

Next week, the Finance Committee will attempt to clean house and transfer 1.7 billion shekels in budget surpluses to the 2014 budget that had been left over from specific 2013 budget lines. As the budget year, which coincides with the calendar year, approaches its end, the Finance Ministry has begun submitting dozens of requests of this nature to the committee regarding budget allocations that were not spent in 2013. A marathon committee session has been scheduled for Tuesday for that purpose.