Israel’s Cabinet approves moderated defense cuts

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Cabinet unanimously approved a proposal to moderate a cut to the defense budget, as part of sweeping austerity measures proposed for the 2013-2014 budget.

The Cabinet met Monday to discuss the budget, beginning with a plan to cut the defense budget, but not as much as had been proposed by Treasury Minister Yair Lapid.


Lapid had proposed cutting 4 billion shekels, or about $1.1 billion, from the defense budget, but following a meeting of the security cabinet that lasted all day Sunday and much of Sunday night, agreed to a 3 billion shekel or $840 million cut, with another 1 billion shekels, or $280 million coming from the defense budget reserves.

“We need the IDF to continue becoming more efficient, but we also need additional Iron Dome batteries, and I believe that the path I am proposing today strikes a proper balance between the needs of the economy and security needs,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who brokered the compromise, said at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting.

Austerity measures include a reduction in the child allowance and raising taxes, including a 1.5 percent hike on income and a 1 percent rise in the value added tax to 18 percent. The fiscal plan must be passed by Aug. 1.

The Cabinet is expected to approve the entire budget late Monday.