Published On: Tue, Aug 12th, 2014

Israeli Finance Committee Approves $945 Million for Defense

idf artillery


At a stormy meeting of the Knesset Finance Committee today, the committee approved $945 million for the defense budget at the expense of the budgets for public transportation, development of the water system, and earthquake preparations. A majority of 8 to 5 approved the transfer, with MK Stav Shafir (Labor) being forcibly removed from the session after demanding explanations.

According to the committee’s decision, $285 million will be transferred immediately to the defense budget, with an additional $714 million approved for use against the multi-year budget. The committee did not state what the purposes of the supplement were, which were disclosed behind closed doors to the joint defense budget committee.

Oppositions MKs were angry at the secrecy with which billions of shekels were transferred to the defense budget at the expense of civilian welfare budgets. Knesset Finance Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky (Jewish Home) ordered the forcible removal of Shafir from the committee discussion on budget changes, after Shafir ask for explanations of the expected $143 million in cuts in the public transportation and water system budgets.

Shafir claims that representatives of the Ministry of Finance refused to answer her questions for particulars about the purposes of the cut and its consequences. After a verbal exchange, Slominansky ordered Knesset security personnel to remove Shafir from the discussion, and she was taken out of the hall. During the debate, Shafir called out to Slomiansky, “The only thing that interests you is Jewish communities in the territories, not what’s happening in the south.” Slomiansky answered, “You’re a liar; you should be ashamed of yourself.”

Committee members present at the debate said in response that a Knesset member had never been removed from the discussion for asking questions, and called out, “A Jew doesn’t expel another Jew” (referring sarcastically to a slogan used by opponents of the 2005 disengagement from Gaza by then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon).

Two months ago, Shafir appealed to the Supreme Court, demanding a change in the procedure for changing the budget, which allows the Ministry of Finance to underhandedly alter the allocation of millions of shekels and conceal the government’s real priorities.

“The chairman of the Finance Committee is lying to the public and doing everything to prevent me from revealing the truth, ” Shafir said. “This time, he set a new record by expelling me from the committee by force. Discussion that take place without legal advisors, millions of shekels in cuts made without any explanation to the committee members – representatives of the public – this is corruption under Knesset sponsorship, and I’m not willing to be a part of it.”

Meretz Party leader MK Zehava Galon also attacked the committee’s behavior. “It is impermissible for Knesset Finance Committee members to serve as a rubber stamp for the transfer of billions of shekels to the joint defense budget committee without getting any explanation where the money is going, and why the budget reserves aren’t being used, ” she said.

MK Yakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) joined the opponents, saying, “We can’t approve an allocation whose purposes we don’t know.”

 

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news – www.globes-online.com

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