In the deal reached Monday to uproot Sde Dov airport from North Tel Aviv, the Finance Ministry ceded NIS 1 billion to the Defense Ministry.
In recent months, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has clamored for extra funds from Finance Minister Yair Lapid in a very public battle, canceling flight drills for pilots and reserve duty for the rest of the year and delaying the deployment of the David’s Sling mid-range rocket defense system. All the steps, Ya’alon said, were the result of budget cuts.
The billion shekels is not the full amount Ya’alon sought, but still represents a significant victory over Lapid, who has argued that the defense budget is wasteful, and that its lack of transparency allows it to avoid trimming the fat in a way that does not harm security.
Moving Sde Dov has been a priority for the Finance Ministry, because it sits on desirable real estate along the beach of northern Tel Aviv. The agreement specified that 20 dunams (about 5 acres) will be cleared by December of 2014, allowing plans to progress for building 16,000 new housing units in the area.
The airport includes both a military and a commercial airfield, which runs mostly short flights to Eilat and nearby Cyprus.