Meridor: Gov't must fund home front defense

Former finance minister says citizens forced to spend more money on security.

dan meridor 224.88 (photo credit: Knesset Web site)
dan meridor 224.88
(photo credit: Knesset Web site)
With rockets turning homes into front lines of battle, and with a lack of a proper response by the government, citizens are being forced to spend more money on personal security, according to former finance minister Dan Meridor. "The most basic obligation of the state, to ensure the security of its citizens irrespective of their economic ability, is impaired. We are experiencing the phenomenon of an incremental process of privatizing security," Meridor said Thursday in Haifa at the Israel Democracy Institute's annual Caesarea Forum. Citing the findings of a report on the issue titled "The Home Front as the Battleground: Economic Aspects in the Face of Changes in the Nature of the Conflicts," Meridor warned that a level of security that was dependent on the economic ability of individuals could exacerbate existing social gaps and cause them to take on existential significance. "National security is a public good, and therefore, for reasons of economic efficiency, the government must provide it," he said. "Leaving it to the private market is liable to cause an inefficient allocation of security components. "Moreover, the worsening of the gaps and lack of security due to an inability to finance it cause severe damage to Israel's national resilience." Labor MK Ofer Pines-Paz, chairman of the Knesset Committee on Internal Affairs and Environment, said if the state could not satisfy the security needs of its citizens, "this is questioning the existence of the state." "The Israeli prime minister is not being tested on his ability to reach security and social targets but on meetings with Clinton or Blair," Pines-Paz told the conference. "In Israel we have two types of offices, one that privatizes its services and one that is being dried up, meaning that budgets are not being allocated." The home front is facing constant danger and the threat of multiple attacks, the report said. It called for taking a different approach in many areas, including: organizing the agencies tending to the home front in routine and emergency situations; revising the IDF combat doctrine; preparing and training citizens from psychological, mental and practical standpoints; and changing budget priorities in general and the defense budget in particular. "The government needs to redefine the level of security that would enable residents to maintain a reasonable daily routine over time," Meridor said. "This involves examining all aspects of security on the home front, while distinguishing between realms of government authority that would not be privatized and activities of a technical nature for which the desired level of governmental involvement will be determined." The report recommended the establishment of an integrating agency that would assume responsibility for functions relating to the home front. "Delineating responsibility for the home front and providing a responsible authority that would work hand in hand with local authorities during emergency situations is the correct and proper measure," Meridor said.