Yuval Steinitz 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file[)
The draft state budget for 2011-2012, which was approved on Friday by the
cabinet, seeks to give priority to education, health and welfare.
RELATED:Israel Beiteinu vow to quash budget voteSteinitz rejects budget criticism
still needs to be passed by the Knesset.
“The budget we have been
presented is a responsible and balanced budget that grants stability to the
Israeli economy for the next two years,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said
on Friday following the vote. “We are not deviating from the budgetary
parameters we have set, which is very important from a national and
international perspective for the economy.”
“Naturally, we can’t meet
every need, even though many are legitimate and important, but a leader’s job is
to weigh priorities and make decisions,” he added. “The budget balances between
educational, social and security needs.”
Following a night-long debate,
the cabinet approved the budget with 20 ministers voting in favor. Five Israel
Beiteinu ministers voted against, four Shas ministers abstained and one Labor
minister was absent as Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog left
the meeting early in protest of a decision to freeze a planned increase in child
Until the late hours of Thursday night, Netanyahu mediated
between Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to come
to an agreement over the demanded cut in defense spending.
increasing the defense budget by NIS 6.2 billion, it will only be raised by NIS
3.5b. over the next two years. The Finance Ministry said that the NIS 2.7b. cut
in defense spending growth will be transferred to education and social
“The government approved a professional budget, which balances
the different needs of the market,” Steinitz said.
“After years in which
the security budget received significant additions, which strengthened the
military, the government has chosen to give these additions to the education
budget, health, welfare and advanced technologies.”
“My mission is for
economic growth in the coming years to narrow social gaps and strengthen the
weaker sectors through a national application of negative income tax,” he
Steinitz added that the 2011- 2012 budget will allow the government
to plan for the long-term and strengthen the stability and security in the
market, while continuing to diligently protect the security of the
If the draft budget is approved by the Knesset, spending will
increase in real terms by 2.7 percent in 2011 and 2012 compared with 1.7% in
previous budgets. The planned deficit is 3% in 2011 and 2% in 2012.
made a difficult decision, taking into consideration the economic and social
situation in Israel,” Barak said.
“There are consequences to this
decision, and I presented them to the cabinet.”
Barak added that he hopes
the IDF can “stand before the challenges in the resources budgeted to us. The
balance between the security budget and the other budgets can bring us to deal
correctly with the security and social challenges in Israel.”
As part of
the budget agreements, the retirement age for military personnel – who are not
technical specialists or combatants – would be raised to 50. Currently, the
average retirement age for IDF career officers is 42.
It was also agreed
that NIS 1.4b. will be allocated to the Transportation Ministry and NIS
million to the Culture Ministry over the next two years. The budget for
Education Ministry will be increased by NIS 3b. over the next two
“The addition does not provide a full answer to the needs and
problems in the education system,” Education Minister Gideon Saar said.
“However, it is an important step in the right direction. The decision
an approach that investment in education and higher education is the key
future of Israel.”
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.