Israel demands extra 1.37 bln USD for defense budget over Syria situation

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-21 03:38:46|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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JERUSALEM, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- Israel's Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Monday he had requested an additional 4.8 billion shekels (1.37 billion U.S. dollars) for the defense budget due to recent changes in the region.

"There has been a major and dramatic change that led us to request a supplement to the defense budget," the minister said during a briefing for reporters.

According to Lieberman, the main changes included a deep Russian involvement in Syria, in addition to Iranian presence and the introduction of more accurate missiles owned by Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Lebanese militia.

Under a multi-year agreement between the Defense Ministry and the Finance Ministry in 2015, the Defense Ministry could not request to expand its budget unless a major security development had occurred.

Officials of the Finance Ministry told Channel 10 that the office will deny the request, saying the recent developments do not justify the addition.

Israel has been lobbying Russia and the United States against the establishment of permanent Iranian bases in Syria. However, according to local media reports, a ceasefire agreement promoted by the United States and Russia does not include a ban on Iranian military presence in Syria.

Israel and Syria share a disputed border in the Golan Heights, a territory that Israel seized from Syria in the 1976 Middle East War and annexed it later, in a step never recognized by the international community.

Israel has been carrying out occasional airstrikes against Syrian army positions, usually in response to errant fire from the six-year war between the Bashar Assad regime and rebel groups.