Ya'alon retracts decision to cut reservists funds

Defense minister allocates NIS 60m. for reservists after Bennett threatens defense funding over decision to cut reservists' grants.

April 18, 2013 16:55
2 minute read.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, April 11, 2013.

Ya'alon and Gantz smiling at each other 370. (photo credit: Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Thursday ordered that NIS 60 million from the defense budget be re-allocated to reserve soldiers.

An IDF decision to cut the reservists’ grants had set off a furor on Wednesday and led the Knesset Finance Committee to threaten defense funding over the issue. The army’s decision followed a budgetbreaking call-up of combat reserve soldiers during Operation Pillar of Defense in November. The reduction would have meant soldiers get paid less for the days they serve in the coming year.

Ya’alon said on Thursday that the decision “to fill in the gap” created by the cost of the extra reserve service needed for Pillar of Defense was made in concert with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz.

“The gap this year stemmed from the wide call-up for Operation Pillar of Defense and therefore we had to allocate extra funds in order not to hurt reserve soldiers,” Ya’alon said.

His decision to add money for reservist grants came after Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett called on the Knesset Finance Committee to freeze the transfer of all funds to the defense establishment in response to the grant reduction.

Bennett turned to Knesset Finance Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky and asked that he stop all transfers of funds to the defense establishment until the reservists’ grants were reinstated in full.

Both men are from the Bayit Yehudi Party.

“Rather than kissing their [IDF reservists’] feet, they are playing around with their grants,” Channel 10 quoted Bennett as saying. “By any means necessary they will receive every cent. It is unacceptable that because they were called up during Operation Pillar of Defense they will receive less,” he said during meetings with Treasury officials.

Slomiansky had called for an emergency meeting of the Knesset Finance Committee to discuss the cutting of the grants. Ya’alon’s decision to allocate extra funds for reservists seemed, however, to restore the cut, making the meeting a moot point.

The NIS 60m. cash injection was designed to “avoid harming the reserve soldiers,” Ya’alon said.

Bennett claimed credit for Ya’alon’s decision.

“Ya’alon did the right thing,” Bennett said in a post on his Facebook page. “We proved that we can win when we struggle for something that is just.”

Yaakov Lappin and Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.

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