Government expected to divide NIS 11 billion on Tuesday: Who gets what?

The biggest chunk of money, NIS 3.3 billion, is expected to land in the lap of the Defense branch as it gears up for a possible clash with Hezbollah or Hamas * programs for LGBT youth to be closed

Finance Minister Israel Katz at a meeting of the Finance Committee, July 20, 2020 (photo credit: ADINA WALLMAN/KNESSET SPOKESWOMAN)
Finance Minister Israel Katz at a meeting of the Finance Committee, July 20, 2020
The government is expected to meet on Tuesday and decide how to distribute NIS 11 billion that was not included in the current budget. The money is intended to address various national needs as the country started the educational year a week ago and is dealing with ever-increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients, tensions in the North and South, and a turbulent political system.
Finance Minister Israel Katz said that over a quarter of the money, NIS 3.3b., will be transferred to the Defense Ministry and the IDF to cover the construction of an underground barrier between Gaza and Israel (NIS 600 million), fund a possible clash with Hezbollah up North or Hamas down South (NIS 2b.) and allow the ministry to acquire items and goods it deems to be necessary (NIS 700m.).
"On one hand we are entering a period of normalization with the Arab world [after the Abraham Accords]," Tel Aviv University Economist Dr. Wael Kraiem told The Jerusalem Post. "And on the other hand, the defense branch consumes the budget."
Yeshivot maintained by the ultra-Orthodox community are expected to be granted NIS 400m. This is necessary because without a new budget being passed, they lack funding to remain open.
The possible closure of the higher world of Torah learning due to political inability to pass the budget would lead to an uproar, since it is a core value among the haredim (ultra-Orthodox). It appears that both haredi MKs and others in the Likud-led coalition are eager to prevent that possibility.
NIS 1b. will be earmarked to increase the benefits currently given to the disabled, The Marker reported, with the remaining NIS 5.3b. to be used to pay debts the government currently has to suppliers who could not be paid until a budget is passed, as well as to the Education Ministry. In response to a question from The Jerusalem Post on Monday, the ministry said the sum they are meant to get “is still unknown.”
The NIS 3.3b. defense allocation will not cover all the requests of the IDF, since Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz is expected to ask for an extra NIS 1.1b. to cover the pensions of IDF veterans. The money, which offers pension for years during which those IDF veteran didn’t serve in the army, is also known as the IDF chief of staff’s “increased sums,” and its legality had been challenged in the past.
A variety of supplementary educational programs are set to be closed due to lack of funds. Among them are a program for LGBT teens living outside central Israel, plans to help Ethiopian youth and plans to aid autistic adults and teens.
“Money is given to the defense branch, which already enjoys NIS 11b.,” KAN reported on Sunday, “and no money is given to those who are unable to shout and bang on tables to get it.”
"We have no budget," Kraiem told the Post. "No country, even in the darkest parts of the world, can function for a year without passing a budget. The odd thing is that the public simply got used to it. Not just to that, but to having a state where many key positions in public service are not filled."
"The issue is whether our leaders understand the national needs at the moment," he said.
In a widely reported slip of the tongue, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in 2019 that “I am the navigator of this Titanic.”
While Netanyahu meant to present himself as a skilled captain who can lead the nation through dangerous water, the analogy was quickly harpooned because the Titanic sank in 1912 after it hit icebergs, and no amount of skilled navigation could have saved her at that point.
After Netanyahu said “we shouldn’t be afraid to take loans,” the Finance Ministry released on Sunday its findings that the national deficit is now NIS 87.5b., the largest debt in the country’s history. In addition, NIS 14.5b. meant to be used for various state-aid programs to help those badly hit because of COVID-19 poverty was never used.
In his public resignation letter, former budget chief Shaul Meridor warned Katz is using such unclaimed funds to boost his budget presentations for other projects, which Katz denied as “lies.”