Benny Gantz with binoculars 370.
(photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
Economic realities have forced the IDF to adjust accordingly and make it difficult to plan for the future, Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday.
“This isn’t a trick,” Gantz said of the IDF’s complaints that it is lacking funds. “This is the simple truth that we presented here.”
Gantz added that he is “very concerned, because I think we need to ensure our level of preparedness over time. I’m concerned because we need to lay foundations for our future.”
At the same time, the chief of staff said the IDF is the country’s army and not the other way around, and it will do what the Knesset and government decides.
“We will present the ramifications, we will talk about these things, and we are committed to ensuring the security of the State of Israel in any situation,” he stated. “Our motivation isn’t harmed by the challenges when it comes to resources. Our commitment isn’t lessened and we still have good people with us.”
Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud Beytenu) said committee members are concerned by media reports that the budget situation has become a crisis.
“We understand you’re using the tools the government gives you [the IDF], but our job is to make sure you have the minimum. We are worried about what happened in the months since the work plan was authorized and why we got from that point to a crisis,” Elkin said.
The government needs to set its priorities, because it cannot add funds to everything – defense, education, and welfare – he added.
“The IDF doesn’t need to be part of this argument,” Elkin said. “Its job is to do the best it can under the circumstances.”
Later, in the plenum, MK Omer Bar-Lev (Labor) discussed his suspension from the Foreign Affairs and Defense subcommittees for leaking information.
“My sin was just that I didn’t decide letters from the Defense Minister are classified and accidentally broke a secondary Knesset regulation. I decided to take responsibility and not participate in subcommittees in the coming month. Any other reports are wrong and fueled by people who have an interest to silence me,” he said.
Elkin’s office said he suspended Bar-Lev from subcommittees on Monday for leaking information from discussions about the budget to the press. The punishment will remain in effect until August.
According to Bar-Lev, the real problem is that “the defense system decided that instead of self-examination of the plans and reports it gave to the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, it decided to attack me, personally.
“Whoever knows me knows that this will not harm my good judgment on issues having to do with Israel’s security interests,” he added.