Steinitz: IDF ‘inciting’ against gov't in budget battle

Finance minister says cabinet decided on defense budget "and the army should salute and accept it.”

By
February 20, 2012 01:51
2 minute read.
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz 390. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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The Defense Ministry-Treasury standoff over the defense budget escalated on Sunday as Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz accused the IDF of inciting against the government.

“In a democratic country, the army does not incite the public against the government,” he said. “The cabinet decided [about the defense budget], and the army should salute and accept it.”

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The Defense Ministry’s response was quick to come and warned that the lack of funds would lead to slowdown in IDF training and procurement of planes, and ultimately impair the military’s ability to prepare for war and defend Israel.

“It is absurd to think that cutting the budget will not impact training, procurement plans and the ability to conduct missions,” defense officials said. “The defense establishment is a professional entity but we will not be able to make do without the necessary funds.”

The disagreement centers on about NIS 4 billion that the IDF says it needs to be able to implement its multi-year procurement plan.

The IDF says that the money was promised to the military by the Brodet Committee that studied the defense budget and in 2007 recommended that the military be compensated for the rise in the cost of fuel, food and property taxes that it pays for its bases, and called for built-in incremental additions to the budgets over the next 10 years.

Defense officials have said that the lack of funds would lead to the cancellation of a number of programs such as the production of Merkava tanks and the Iron Dome counterrocket defense system.

Kadima MK Nachman Shai on Sunday railed against the ongoing conflict between the Defense and Finance ministries, saying the issue exposes government “weakness in public.”

Slamming what he called Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s inaction, Shai said that “before the prime minister goes to deal with Iran, I advise him to rectify the issues between two of his senior ministers.”

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