The Israeli Mossad significantly exceeding its 1.5 billion NIS ($440 million) budget, as the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) are struggling to keep their weapons programmes running, is not as unreasonable as it might seem at the first glance, former Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor alleged in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.
The former official elaborated that since the inception of the IDF, and the Mossad as its "auxiliary" force, "old style wars" have gone away and "the nature of war is changing" right now.
Meridor explained that the IDF used to need constant force build-up in the form of tanks and other traditional warfare equipment. This required huge budgets to sustain, but right now, when, according to the former official, Israel "faces no tank threat", there are few reasons to keep the military's funding at previous levels.
At the same time, he argued, Mossad has started to emerge as a standalone intelligence agency rather than a body overshadowed by the IDF. The former minister linked this to the fact that nowadays Israel needs to address threats from more distant places, such as Iran, and to track down and eliminate weapons experts and terror financiers. Meridor went on to stress the importance of receiving early warnings about imminent threats, such as emerging low-grade conflicts, which intelligence agencies like Mossad are good at.
These changes in the nature of conflict and threats to Israel's security only justify the increase in Mossad's budget and the lack of boost in funding of the IDF, Meridor summed up. According to the Israeli State Comptroller report, this increase exceeded the long-term budget limit of the intelligence agency by 1.1 billion NIS ($323 million). Mossad's Yossi Cohen admitted the fact that his agency had broken the funding ceiling and added that he was "pondering the dilemma of the need to do more", while demanding more from the budget than it's willing to give.