Israel’s Minister of Finance, Yuval Steinitz, has accused the army command of inciting against the government, noting that such agitation should not occur in a democratic system where the government makes decisions and the army implements them.
Steinitz made the remarks during the opening session of the Israeli government on Sunday and preceded part of the on-going debate on the Ministry of Defence budget for 2012. The Israeli army claims it needs a 7.7% increase on top of its current budget in order to cover military and training needs.
The Israeli Air Force has announced its intention to halt the acquisition of a number of aircraft as a result of insufficient funds. For the same reason, the Air Force will also freeze operation of the anti-rocket and anti-missile systems, including the Iron Dome and the Magic Wand systems. There is a significant gap between Israel’s defence plans and the budget allocated for 2012, despite a recent decision by the government not to cut NIS 3 billion from the defence budget.
The army also unveiled its plans to stop buying military hardware and equipment from the Rafael military industry and to halt the creation of additional Iron Dome stations even though the U.S. administration allocated $205 million last year in aid to create four extra stations, in addition to the two owned by the Israeli Army. According to Israel’s agreement with the United States, it is supposed to fund one-third of the cost of Iron Dome stations, while the U.S. is to contribute two-thirds of costs.
Military sources point out that the steps taken will critically impact on Israeli army units, army capabilities, and its readiness for war. The sources also complain about the unresponsiveness of the government when it comes to requests from the army to close the gaps in the budget, despite their awareness of the gaps and the seriousness of the situation.
A heated confrontation recently erupted between the Minister of Finance and the Israel’s Army Chief of Staff, Penny Gants, when the latter accused the Finance Minister of not respecting the military.