Ministers at Sunday's cabinet meeting are expected to meet in the hard-hit Ashkelon Coast Regional Council to discuss plans for large budget cuts to the current 2014 and upcoming 2015 budgets in order to offset the costs of Operation Protective Edge, Israel Radio reported.
The plan would call for every government ministry to slash its budget by two percent. Around NIS 500m. would be slashed from the Education budget, NIS 43m. cut from the Health budget and NIS 243m. would would be cut from the development and transportation budget.
Only the Defense Ministry would be immune from cuts in the plan, proposed by Finance Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid). Beyond the direct costs of Operation Protective Edge and replenishing weapons, the Defense Ministry has sought a NIS 11b. budget increase for 2015.
Lapid met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Bank of Israel Gov. Karnit Flug, the top economic adviser to the government, on Tuesday, where they hashed out details on how to cover costs for the operation within the current fiscal year. They also discussed plans the 2015 state budget, which is scheduled to be presented to the cabinet on September 11.
Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich tore into Lapid and Netanyahu for the budget cuts, calling them “cowardly.”
“Of all the ways available to fund Operation Protective Edge, including, among others, canceling the incomprehensible 0 VAT plan and canceling tax exemptions and extensive benefits for the rich, Netanyahu and Lapid chose to increase the gaps between the rich and the poor and hurt the real strength of the State of Israel – the socioeconomic strength,” she said.
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On went on to criticize the special treatment given to the defense ministry in budgetary dealings.
“While Operation Protective Edge incurred significant costs on the defense establishment, the way to cover them is not to cut the education, health and welfare budgets, but to use the defense establishment’s own funds,” she said.
Niv Elis contributed to this report.