A Forgone Conclusion

The ultimate significance of the compromise which allowed for approval of the state budget, to be followed by a defense establishment request for additional funding, is that Defense Minister Ehud Barak will get billions in a supplement to the defense budget. Something similar happened last year when it became clear to treasury officials that right after the state budget was approved, Barak got a NIS 1.4 billion budget boost. And the maneuver is being repeated this year.

The Prime Minister's Office agreed to consider the defense funding request next month, to head off a confrontation on the eve of the Knesset's approval of the state budget. If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had assented to Barak's demand now, he would have gotten himself into hot water with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz. If he had relented to Steinitz, he would have upset Barak. And an increase to the defense budget now could have spurred budget demands from Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu. So Barak will simply have to hold off for another month before he gets his extra funds.

In another two weeks, intensive negotiations will begin between the finance and defense ministries, with each side presenting its demands. In actuality, however, the decision is a forgone conclusion. And the much touted two-year budget will end up not even being a two-month budget.