Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed his government’s willingness to adopt a number of measures suggested by Israel’s Ministry of Finance to cut the general budget. These include a huge reduction in the defence budget of almost $800 million. The cut was agreed between Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz despite the Prime Minister’s known opposition to such a cut on the grounds of national security and maintaining the Israel Defence Forces’ capabilities.
Israeli media sources attributed Netanyahu’s change of heart to his attempts to avoid an early election if he fails to get the required Knesset majority to pass the budget before the end of this year. “If he concludes that he doesn’t have the political capital needed to pass the budget by the end of the year, early elections will be called and the budget headache will be passed on to the next government,” said Haaretz newspaper.
Some of the other ministries face reductions in their budget of up to $500 million. It is expected that around 2,000 civil servants will lose their jobs, while others will have to accept salary cuts.