Lapid opposes mitigating IDF budget cuts

Political-Security Cabinet leaves heated debate on budget cuts for IDF; finance minister says behind closed doors that budgeting army comes at expense of middle class

The Political-Security Cabinet adjourned on Wednesday evening to discuss the security budget. Chief of Staff Benny Gantz asked for a reduction in budget cuts on security from NIS 7.5 billion ($2.6 billion) – decided in May – to NIS 4 billion ($1.4 billion).


Finance Minister Yair Lapid said he opposed the reduction., saying: "Any addition to the military will come at the expense of the middle class, health, education and welfare." 


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In the afternoon and evening Wednesday, ministers from the Security and Finance Ministry presented Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with their requests.


Unofficial debates went on from 3:00 pm to 10:00 pm Wednesday, at the end of which it was decided to push the official meeting to tomorrow. The finance minister, defense minister, prime minister and IDF chief of staff agreed on a security budget of NIS 51 billion ($15 billion) for 2013-2014, with a formal budget cut of NIS 4 billion ($1.4 billion) that became a NIS 7.5 billion ($2.4 billion), leaving a heated debate regarding NIS 3.5 billion ($1 billion).


Ynet's Ron Ben Yishai noted that in the defense establishment and IDF there is concern that the budget cuts will heavily affect the IDF's ability to handle its missions. This fear is based on the fact that most of the scenarios IDF is prepping for are to happen around April, 2014; with the cut, that is when the IDF will be at its lowest financially.


The budget cuts mean, according to the defense establishment, that the IDF will not be prepared to handle problems such as potential West Bank riots as a result of April peace talks.


April also marks Iran becoming a nuclear threshold state, and the IDF claims Israel will be in no position to launch a military option against Iran if one is needed.


Chief of Staff Gantz addressed the military budget on Tuesday in a ceremony at the Memorial Monument for Fallen Bedouin Soldiers: " I've approved a plan that will unfortunately lead to the departure of many people... but I won't allow the basic rights of officers and NCOs to be affected."


Ya'alon lashed out against the Finance Ministry Monday during a turbulent debate at the Labor and Welfare Committee meeting. "The (Finance) Ministry is taking advantage of the public atmosphere, according to which we can hurt officers and NCOs," Ya'alon said, adding, "In the coming hearing regarding the security budget, the Finance Ministry will demand cuts in personnel for 4,500 soldiers in permanent service and there won't be nearly as much public outrage as there was when 800 Teva workers were threatened with layoffs."


Lapid, on his part, said "The money should go to housing and young couples. The Israeli middle class doesn't understand why an overspending system has to come at its expense every time."


The Political-Security Cabinet eventually parted without results as debates reached a dead end over the NIS 3.5 billion ($1 billion) budget cut to the IDF. "(The Finance Ministry) is acting like a body with a state. It incites against officers making very low wages," sources in the Security Ministry said.


"Thousands of security industrial workers who might be fired… is a real risk." The ministers will reconvene Thursday at noon.



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פרסום ראשון: 10.30.13, 22:23
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