Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon launched a scathing criticism of the Finance Ministry on Monday during an appearance before the Knesset’s Labor and Welfare Committee, accusing the ministry of harming Israeli security and demonizing career soldiers.
The ministry and defense establishment are at loggerheads over the 2015 defense budget, and Ya’alon used his speech to describe finance officials as failing to meet commitments to the military’s budgetary needs, to the tune of a billion shekels.
“This is part of a technique to harm security and the IDF, and mainly those who serve. There is a serious problem here, of a government ministry that does not live up to its word, does not meet written agreements, and does not carry out government decisions, and laws,” Ya’alon said.
The defense minister pledged to forge an agreement that will dictate conditions for career army soldiers, to replace the current model, which he said is disliked by the military.
“When I read an interview with the Finance Minister [Yair Lapid] a few months ago, in which he blames all of the market’s injustices on three groups – the tycoons, the haredim, and the career soldiers – my hair stood on end,” Ya’alon said.
“But soon afterward, the head of the Budgets Branch [in the Finance Ministry] said in an interview that the main problem in the markets are the tycoons, the big [workers] committees and career soldiers. If this is not a systematic delegitimization of career soldiers, which unfortunately is dripping down [to society], then what is?” Ya’alon said.
Responding to the accusations, the Finance Ministry described Ya’alon’s comments as a crude attack on public servants.
The ministry described the timing of the meeting, held to discuss additions to pay for professional soldiers, as “strange, in light of the fact that Home Front Command drills are being canceled at the same time, there are threats to cancel [more] exercises, and requests to add billions of shekels to the [defense] budget.”
“The formula is simple: Any addition to the defense budget will come at the expense of the public,” the ministry said.
The head of the IDF’s Manpower Directorate, Maj.-Gen.
Orna Barbivai, told the committee that one out of every four professional soldiers receives the minimum wage, despite the raise in pay attained by other segments of the public sector.
“This situation has led to the departure of quality soldiers.
The further retirement ages are pushed back, the less able they are to join the job market [after their service],” she said.