Barak Wants Party Discipline for Defense Budget

As the cabinet prepares to vote on the national budget for 2011-2012 today, Defense Minister Ehud Barak convened all the ministers from his party, Labor, to demand their support. For the defense budget, that is, which the Finance Ministry wants to cut. However, given the rickety state of relations in the Labor party, it remains to be seen if the Labor ministers will follow Barak's lead.

Other ministers are also dismayed by the Finance Ministry's dictates. Welfare Minister Yitzhak Herzog is demanding an extra NIS 200 million per year. His associates be dto note that Herzog isn't in anybody's pocket, neither Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz's nor Barak's.

As for Shas, its ministers traditionally oppose the budget bill. This year's opposition is based on the proposal to freeze any increase in child allowances, and cuts to other social security stipends. Shas also wants the government to give more help to young couples seeking to buy their first home.

Various ministries under Yisrael Beiteinu members are demanding a combined NIS 2 billion extra, including NIS 540 million for tourism, NIS 500 million for immigration absorption and NIS 200 million for public security. The Yisrael Beiteinu demands are being handled through Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov.