In accordance with an agreement that had been reached between the defense and finance ministers prior to the approval of the 2015-2016 State Budget, the Knesset Finance Committee approved on Monday a NIS 2.5 billion supplement to the defense budget. The funding will come from various budgetary reserves.
With the addition, the 2015 defense budget is currently NIS 59.5 billion. The security establishment claimed that the original budget would not allow it to carry out its missions.
Members of the opposition criticized the addition to the defense budget, arguing that the repeated increase of the defense budget makes a mockery of the committee and render the annual budget which is approved by the Knesset ”fictitious”.
The budget surpluses, the opposition members said, should be used to pay off Israel`s national debt, in accordance with the law.
Finance Committee Chairman MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) said the committee had been informed in advanced that the original defense budget would not be final and that additions would be needed ”in order to allow the security establishment to achieve its goals.”
MK Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid) reiterated that the budget surpluses are meant, by law, to be used to pay off Israel`s national debt, and MK Zehava Galon (Meretz) said the ”monstrous” defense budget ”keeps growing and growing.”
The Finance Committee`s legal advisor, Sagit Afik, said the finance minister has the authority to use budget surpluses in order to increase other budgets. The process, she said, was legally sound.
Sasson Hadad, financial advisor to the IDF chief of staff, said the supplement was ”critical” from a security standpoint, adding that the army was operating according to the multi-year plan ”Gideon”.