PM backs Lapid on budget

Prime Minister says he will not interfere with Finance Minister Yair Lapid's new budget plans, except for the security budget.

Netanyahu in China 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Netanyahu in China 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
BEIJING/TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told reporters accompanying him to China on Wednesday that he was giving his full backing to Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s budget.
Netanyahu is scheduled to return to Israel from China on Friday. He said that on Sunday his government will make decisions regarding defense spending, and on Monday, “we will pass a budget. Israel needs a budget.”
Lapid’s budget proposal allotted NIS 4 billion less for the Defense Ministry in 2013 than in 2012. In the summer of 2012, when then-finance minister Yuval Steinitz imposed across-the-board budget cuts in an attempt to rein in the ballooning deficit, Netanyahu prevailed upon him to leave the Defense Ministry budget mostly untouched.
Speaking on Wednesday evening, Lapid said he has “the full cooperation of the prime minister” but conceded that “there is still a discussion on the defense budget,” a discussion he said may continue until just before the budget passes.
Even the defense establishment understands that cuts are necessary, the finance minister said.
Speaking in the South on Tuesday, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said he was working with the Finance Ministry to settle on an “appropriate budget” by Monday’s cabinet meeting, during which the budget will be brought for a vote.
“We have discussed this for several weeks – the Defense Ministry and Finance Ministry – with the goal of formulating a budget that on one hand will take into account the budget deficit we’ve come upon as a government, which I cannot ignore, but on the other hand, will also provide an answer for our security needs,” the Likud minister said.
Specifically, Ya’alon said, it was important to protect multi-year programs so as not to harm “major projects.”
“It will be possible to shrink [the budget] somewhat in the next year-and-a-half, on the condition that we’ll know to address it in the following years,” he said.