Photo: Noam Moskowitz
Benjamin Netanyahu
Photo: Noam Moskowitz

Netanyahu announces NIS 3 billion cut to defense

Decision represents productive compromise, says PM; Yachimovich urges ministers to resist Lapid's 'plan of oppression'

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Monday that the defense budget will be cut by NIS 3 billion a year. While this is less than NIS 4 billion cut as proposed by the Treasury during Monday's cabinet meeting – where the ministers are set vote to approve the budget – the announcement represents a major victory for Finance Minister Yair Lapid, reluctant for the tax payer to bear the brunt of austerity measures.


During the cabinet meeting Netanyahu said he decided to reduce the Treasury's proposed budget cut so that it does not come at the expense of the public.


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"I wish to clarify that the IDF and its commanders, fighters and weapons are vital for Israel's security," stated the prime minister. "Both the defense and the offense, the two major fronts. Therefore, we need the IDF to continue with its streamlining process but we need also another Iron Dome. I believe that the budget I suggest gives the right balance between the needs of the economy and those of security."


ישיבת הממשלה. הקיצוץ בביטחון במרכז הבמה. צילום ארכיון (צילום: אלכס קולומויסקי)

File photo of a cabinet meeting (photo: Alex Kolomoisky)


Netanyahu stressed that "the most important thing today is that the government approves the budget." The prime minister said that while the budget has to develop "the engines of growth," adding that his visit to China contributed to those.


"At the same time we will continue the policy reforms in Israel and especially the port reform. These two things: ratifying a responsible budget and pushing reforms to create growth engines in my opinion will ensure the country's economic future in the coming years."


According to Netanyahu, the decision will not require additional cuts in the state budget due to reserves from previous years


Also Monday Opposition Leader Shelly Yachimovich (Labor) issued an open letter to government ministers, urging them to "vote against the pile of austerity measures, the cuts and the oppression plan of the finance minister."


In the document detailing what in her view is the potentially grave damage the proposed budget holds for the poor and the middle class, and the risk of entry of the recession, Yachimovitch wrote: "Do not accept the plan as if it were the only possible course of action. In fact, the opposite is true. Don't be guilty of rash decisions by lending your support to things you do not know in depth, whose harm to the citizens of Israel, to its economy and its fate is unbearable. "


She signed off entreating the ministers to show "courage, ministerial responsibility, seriousness and independent thinking."


Earlier on Monday, some 300 people were protesting outside the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem against plans to impose VAT on the tourism industry as part of the budgetary austerity measures. They are carrying signs which read "tourism is the economy's growth engine" and "imposing VAT = death blow to tourism."



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Moran Azulay, Avital Lahav, Attila Somfalvi and Boaz Fyler contributed to this report.


פרסום ראשון: 05.13.13, 13:15
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