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Israel's finance minister vetoes purchase of US fighter jets

April 2, 2024 at 9:03 am

Bezalel Smotrich, Israels finance minister, speaks during a news conference in Jerusalem, Israel on 11 January 2023 [Kobi Wolf/Bloomberg via Getty Images]

Israel’s Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich has vetoed the purchase of two American fighter jets until the convening of a committee that would examine the defence budget, Ynet reported.

Israeli security officials criticised the minister’s decision and accused him of bringing “politics” into the “cockpit” and neglecting Tel Aviv’s “multi-arena war”, Ynet added.

In a letter sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Smotrich said: In recent days, the Ministry of Defense has requested to convene, without consent, the committee. Convening the ministerial committee and approving a deal of this magnitude, without the consent of the Ministry of Finance, and over the head of the Minister of Finance, is unprecedented and I do not intend to allow it.”

He added: “The Defence Ministry’s expectations to receive a blank check for huge amounts, which have enormous consequences for the economy, and the quality of life of Israel’s citizens, without any critical thinking, brainstorming, professional, public and government discussion, is neither legitimate nor realistic.”

The ministries of finance and defence had agreed to establish a public committee which would submit its recommendations within about two months. However, Smotrich said: “The Ministry of Defence has prevented establishment of the committee, and seeks to establish facts on the ground that require huge budgets, for the aforementioned aircraft purchase deals. With all due respect, such conduct cannot be accepted.”

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