Labor Says No to State Budget

Ad Feedback - JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said his party will vote against the 2009 state budget, which calls for a major cut in defense spending.

"Two years after the Second Lebanon War and with the threats that surround us -- Iran, Hezbollah [in Lebanon], and Hamas -- Israel cannot afford defense budget cuts," Barak said.

Other ministers and members of Knesset say discussions on the budget should wait until after the Kadima party primaries in mid-September, when Kadima members will choose a successor to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, running for the party's top spot, believes the budget should wait until after the primaries to see if Kadima can form a new government.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the other candidate vying for Kadima leadership, would like to see the budget passed before the primaries.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, slated to resign as soon as his party chooses a new chairman, told ministers that he would not accept delays on passing the budget.

"I will not accept factional loyalties when it comes to budget deliberations. It's unacceptable," Olmert said.

"The ministers have a collective responsibility over the nation's budget. I will use all my strength to push the budget through because this government wants to continue to exist despite recent political events," he said.

Sources: YNet news, The Jerusalem Post

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