Last week the government discussed the perennial defense budget and while the Finance Ministry claimed that the defense establishment exceeded the budget by NIS 11 billion ($2.73 billion), the latter refuted the claims and noted that in the last few years they have become more efficient and cut back billions of shekels.
Yedioth's Ahronoth's financial magazine Mamon revealed that the State's budgetary problems could be solved in a different way: The IDF and Defense Ministry hold property worth over NIS 40 billion ($9.93 billion) in areas with the potential for the construction of tens of thousands of apartments.
Relocation of IDF bases has been a hot topic for over 15 years, but an agreement on the evacuation of IDF bases in central Israel was only signed two months ago.
The intention is to evacuate many bases in Gush Dan including Tzrifin (Rishon L'Zion), Tel Hashomer (Kiryat Ono), Israeli Adjutant Corps (Ramat Gan), Sirkin (Petah Tikva) and later on, moving the Rabin Base ('Kirya') to Lod and the Sde Dov airbase to Ben Gurion Airport.
'The move could create (room for) tens of thousands of housing units on land that becomes available in central Israel where apartments are as essential as air to breath," said Ohad Danos Chairman of the Real Estate Appraisers Association who added "and serve as a major help to spreading out the population and relieving (population) density in the center (of Israel)."
Among the relocation plans already set in motion is the Israel Military Industries (IMI) facility in the Sharon where construction on 23,000 apartments is set to begin within five years. According to the plan, the Israel Land Administration will transfer some NIS 1.9 billion ($470 million) to the Defense Ministry for the land.
The land administration will be getting its 'big money' from marketing the expensive land to entrepreneurs.
So just how much money is the State looking at from the relocation? Tzrifin presents potential for some 15,000 apartments as well as park land, worth some NIS 6 billion ($1.49 billion) but the project is only set to start in 10 years.
The Tel Hashomer base will become a new neighborhood that will be annexed to Kiryat Ono with some 7,357 average sized apartments and 1,839 small apartments. The project is worth NIS 4.5 billion ($1.12 billion) with construction set to begin in three to five years.
As for the IDF's base in central Tel Aviv, the Rabin Base ('Kirya') could be replaced by 2,000 residential apartments as well as hundreds of thousands of square meters of commercial and residential space.
Another Azrielli shopping mall is also on the cards as well as an expansion of the Sharona compound. This could all be worth some NIS 5 billion ($1.24 billion). The IDF is currently in ongoing negotiations with the Tel Aviv municipality and the Israel Land Administration.