Ministries Close Deal on Defense Funding for Next Five Years

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli soldiers [Photo via Newscom]
IDF soldiers. (Reuters)

The Finance and Defense Ministries closed a deal on Monday, on funding for Israel’s security needs over the next five years. The deal will see a steady increase in the defense budget through 2020, with the money to be spent specifically on defense needs – weapons systems, upgrades to existing equipment, development of new technologies, etc. Projects that have been classified as essential to national security, such as moving IDF bases from the center of the country to the Negev, as well as pay raises for soldiers, will be funded separately, the ministries agreed.

Under the deal, the Defense Ministry’s budget will be increased each year between 2015 and 2020. Because of the late passage of the budget, the Ministry will get a double payment this year – with this year’s budget set at NIS 56.1 billion ($14.4 billion). By 2020, the Ministry’s budget will reach NIS 61.5 billion ($15.8 billion).

Additional projects, such as the transfer of the central command, the IDF recruitment center, and other facilities to new bases being built in the Be’er Sheva area, will be funded separately. Also receiving their own funding will be plans to raise salaries for soldiers and to fund pensions for officers who decide to retire. Those projects will receive funding annually; the amount set aside for 2006 is NIS 2 billion ($475 million).

Among the new expenses the IDF is anticipating is a rush of requests for pensions; the deal reduces the age at which outgoing officers are eligible for a full pension from 42 to 36. In addition, the deal will see service for regular soldiers cut from the current three years to two and a half years.

A senior Defense Ministry official quoted on Israel Radio said Monday that the deal was “achieved with the best intentions of both sides. The new budget will allow the IDF to allocate funds for the many defense needs of the country. From now on we will be able to maintain a steady budget.” In a statement, the Finance Ministry said that the Defense Ministry entered into the agreement “without anyone forcing or instructing them to.”

“We have come to a meeting of minds on the matter,” the statement added.