The cabinet today agreed to divert 4% of the ministries' budgets to Defense.

The move was proposed by Finance Minister Silvan Shalom. As expected, the cut across the board in the ministerial budgets - except for Defense, of course - was not hugely popular. Fifteen ministers voted in favor of the treasury's motion, and 11 against.

Shalom amended his original proposal, which called for amendment of the budget law itself. Instead he proposed to divert the 4% from the ministerial budgets on a temporary basis in order to meet the special short-term needs of the security establishment. The cut will not therefore not be automatically applied to the ministries' budgets in future years.

The 4% cut will release NIS 1.64 billion from the ministries' budgets.

Defense had called for extra money to finance its intifada-related activities.

The treasury has plans to dredge up more money for defense by stricter collection. It has ruled that the Ports and Railways Authority will transfer NIS 350 from its reserves. The Housing and Construction Ministry will transfer NIS 200 million from its aid budget, in place of unutilized mortgages.

In addition, the cabinet decided to suspend a new law to increase child support for families with more than four children. This will free up NIS 250 million for defense.

The session devoted to the budget reprioritization was especially stormy. Minister Rechavam Ze'evy said he refused to act as the receiver of Israel's tourism industry, and asked to be discharged from office.