Knesset panel approves defense budget, but IDF asks for more

Committee calls to find NIS 750 million that are missing; IDF Chief of Staff says defense establishment in difficult budgetary year.

An IDF soldier at  the West Bank security barrier. (photo credit: REUTERS)
An IDF soldier at the West Bank security barrier.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Knesset Committee on the Defense Budget approved the final budget for 2014 on Tuesday night, while saying the army needs more funding.
Seven committee members voted in favor of the budget and one against, in a meeting with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.- Gen. Benny Gantz and committee chairman Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud Beytenu).
The committee called for the cabinet to approve the military’s multi-year plan and find another NIS 750 million for the 2014 budget.
“We approved the budget with an understanding that the IDF will learn to deal with the significant cuts it is facing in 2014. At the same time, the dramatic decrease in exercises by its standing army and reservists can be a dangerous gamble in the long run,” Hanegbi said.
“As such,” he added, “the government must close the critical gap during this year.”
Gantz said the IDF has been working over the past three years to keep the army fit and prepared for future challenges without failing to respond to current threats.
“The army has another budgetary need, to be equipped at all levels of operation: Competent forces, training programs, reservists and up-to-date operational plans. Finding budgetary resources is necessary for the IDF to be prepared and have a stable, strong base in light of any changes,” he said.
“We must make sure that the IDF is constantly at the highest level of readiness,” The chief of staff emphasized.
Ya’alon pointed to the many challenges and opportunities the military faces and, like Gantz, said it must be prepared for changing threats.
“We are in a difficult budgetary year and some of our actions come from monetary constraints,” he explained.
“The IDF must make sure not to reduce exercises so we can continue to ensure stable security and continue to strengthen research and development.”
More than anything, Ya’alon added, the defense establishment must protect its human resources and invest in those with army careers who “dedicate years of their adult lives to protect Israel’s security in demanding jobs while paying a difficult price in their families because of what they chose as their way of life.
“Israel cannot permit itself to have a mediocre army, and if we can’t enlist good people in the army, it’ll be a problem,” he said.