Minister of Defense Moshe Ya`alon (Likud-Yisrael Beitenu) appeared on Wednesday before the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and spoke about a number of security and policy issues.

On the matter of the defense budget the minister said that he ”views with great seriousness the intention by the Treasury to significantly damage the defense budget. In actuality, we already feel the damage with regards to operational readiness, preparedness and training.” The minister also added that ”The Finance Ministry, as part of its regular policy, ignores its obligations and government decisions related to the defense budget. For instance, on the matter of the IDF`s move to the Negev, reinforcing the airport, pensioners, purchasing submarines and more. The policy of the Finance Ministry attacks only the Defense Ministry while behaving differently towards other government ministries.”

Ya`alon also said regarding the budget that ”we are not able to bridge this budgetary gap. It is a depressing situation. The Finance Ministry is not acting with the proper transparency. This is a crisis. A mortal blow to training, preparedness and readiness. Our abilities will be at a minimum.”

During the review the minister also referred to the negotiations with the Palestinians. According to Ya`alon, ”If Hamas and Fatah reach understandings that lead to elections in the Palestinian Authority, we will oppose the participation of Hamas in these elections, just as we have in the past. In any event, I don`t expect Hamas and Fatah to successfully solve the problems between them and therefore there will not be elections. The Palestinian threat to ”return the keys” is an empty one. The political and economic interest is too strong. There is no partner on the other side. This is the reality. Our soldiers are intelligent enough in order to understand the complicated situation in the field and how to deal with it. There is no immediate solution. We cannot delude ourselves.”

With regards to the intention to close the Home Front Defense Ministry, Ya`alon said that ”The Home Front Defense Ministry was established only due to political considerations. The recent snowstorm is what convinced the prime minister that the general responsibility needs to be returned to the Ministry of Defense.”