Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Minister of Finance Yair Lapid agreed to a new budget before the former’s departure for the U.S., but the Ministry of Defense is still fighting it.
Defense officials warned on Monday that as matters stand, IDF operations will grind to a halt by mid-2015: training will be drastically reduced and armament programs will be truncated, including procurement of Iron Dome rockets, whose spectacular success in the Gaza war kept Israeli civilian casualties to a minimum.
The shortfall comes to about 5 billion shekels; the Finance Ministry is allocating NIS 57 billion for 2015, whereas the army insists it must have at least NIS 62 billion to do the job, Globes reported.
“We’ll present the significance of this budget to the prime minister, the members of the security cabinet, and the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee,” a military source said.
Meanwhile, Lapid was putting a socially presentable face on it. “The 2015 budget bears a social message. The preceding budget was a crisis budget, while the current budget is one of hope and security,” he said at a press conference.
The salient points included an increase to 3.4% in the budget deficit target (compared with 3.18% in the original version); no tax increases; and an increase in the social budget, NIS 4 billion, including a billion more shekels for Holocaust survivors.
The opposition Labor party said in response that “if we had a shekel for every promise Lapid made, we could probably close Israel’s deficit and stop collecting taxes. Besides putting an Israeli on the moon, Lapid has promised the public pretty much everything. It’s nice to see that he still seems to believe himself, even though the public has long lost its faith in him.”