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Israel faces military budget cuts in favour of civil service

February 11, 2014 at 10:07 am

Whilst the Israeli defence ministry is seeking further budget provisions, the Israeli finance ministry is insisting on budget cuts. The Defence minister has warned that this could affect army training programmes.

Israeli media have reported fierce disputes between finance minister, Yair Lapid and defence minister, Moshe Ya’alon, over the budget. Chief of staff, Benny Gantz, joined the discussions to support Ya’alon, but Lapid remained firm on his stance.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined day long discussions on Wednesday to resolve the problem the Times of Israel said, but could not do so. Discussions were postponed until Thursday.

The National security cabinet was scheduled to formally debate the issue on Wednesday, but the failure to reach a consensus between the two ministries pushed the cabinet to postpone the meeting until Thursday.

Yedioth Ahronoth reported Lapid as saying, “any addition to the military’s budget will come at the expense of the middle class, health, education, and welfare.

“The money should go to child care and housing for young couples. The Israeli middle class does not understand why a wasteful and bloated system should be supported at its expense in every new budget.”

A source in the defence ministry told Yedioth Ahrnoth that “the finance ministry is operating like a body that has a state. It’s inciting against career soldiers who earn very low salaries.”

On the role of the finance ministry, the sourced also added, “the finance ministry is required to present the budgetary surplus to the prime minister and national security council but did not do so and is still refusing to do so.”

The source described the debate between the ministers as a “shameful political debate and not a debate on the issues.”

Chief of Staff Gantz requested an extra NIS 4.5 billion ($1.28 billion) for the defence budget. He argued that the army would have to cut training programmes if it did not receive the extra allocation from the finance ministry.

The Times of Israel reported that the Israeli government set the defence ministry’s budget at NIS 51 billion ($14.5 billion).