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PM to shun Mofaz's 'political' defense budget meeting
Netanyahu says Kadima MK using committee to improve position in party's primary. Steinitz: Army employing 'scare tactics' to avoid budget cuts

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told ministers from his ruling Likud party on Sunday that he would not attend a budget meeting called by Knesset Member Shaul Mofaz, who heads the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

 

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The meeting, scheduled for Monday, is expected to focus on the defense budget.

 

Netanyahu, who was asked to attend the meeting along with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Finance Minster Yuval Steinitz, hinted that Mofaz was using the committee to improve his position in the race for Kadima party chairmanship against party leader MK Tzipi Livni.

 


"כיפת ברזל" תיפגע בגלל התקציב? (צילום: שאול גולן, ידיעות אחרונות)

Budget cut to affect 'Iron Dome'? (Photo: Shaul Golan)

 

"I respect the democratic processes within the various parties, but I won't let the Prime Minister's Office or the other government offices serve as a backdrop for the Kadima primary," Netanyahu said.

 

Meanwhile, Steinitz told reporters that the defense establishment has launched an "unprecedented scare campaign" to avoid budget cuts.

 

The IDF has warned of the risks involved in cutting back on training and equipment.

 

The army announced recently that it suspended its Iron Dome purchase deals, citing "budget cuts."  

  

According to Yedioth Ahronoth, Defense Ministry Director-General Udi Shani informed Rafael Advanced Defense Systems – which manufactures the rocket defense system – that at this time, the IDF will not be buying any more Iron Dome batteries.

  

"I can't recall such a campaign of threats being launched after a decision has been reached," the finance minister said.

 

"In a democratic country the government decides and the army salutes. The defense establishment's campaign has some anti-democratic characteristics. This is no less than an attempt at blackmail aimed at receiving more funds at the expense of education and welfare," he added.

 

Yair Altman contributed to the report

 

 

 

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