The Knesset's Finance Committee on Sunday approved a request for an addition of NIS 260 million (about $75 million) to the defense budget. The addition was approved by the committee after being rejected several weeks ago.
On Sunday, it was approved unanimously after Treasury officials said it was for an extremely important security issue. The purpose of the budget increment was not disclosed.
At the last minute, the committee was asked to increase the addition by NIS 124 million ($36 million), but since the request was not explained by the Treasury representatives – it wasn't voted on.
In January, the Treasury asked the Finance Committee for an additional NIS 700 million ($203 million) for the defense budget.
Finance Ministry officials refused to elaborate on the purpose of the new funds, but stated that a series of increments was expected following a change in the defense establishment's evaluation of the situation after the Egypt upheaval and concerns that the peace agreement would be collapse.
The purpose of the funding was detailed by the Defense Ministry in the defense budget committee, which is a secret committee belonging to the Knesset's Finance and Foreign Affairs and Defense committees.
The Defense Ministry budget for 2011 stands at some NIS 56 billion ($16 billion), including an NIS 5 billion ($1.45 billion) addition the Treasury and defense establishment have agreed on. The defense establishment originally asked for an addition of NIS 10 billion ($2.9 billion).
The Defense Ministry clarified in response to media reports on possible budget increments that the ministry "did not ask for one additional shekel to its budget. We regret the fact that while the fighting goes on in the south, the Treasury workers engage in intrigues which do not help the efforts to defend the south's residents.
"The NIS 260 million budget the Finance Ministry asked for this morning at the Finance Committee for the Defense Ministry is not an addition to the defense budget, but an implementation of government decisions approved in the past."
Avital Lahav contributed to this report