Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been called in to rule this Thursday on a new dispute that has erupted between the Finance Ministry and the Defense Ministry over the 2013-2014 budget. The Finance Ministry is saying that the Defense Ministry has yet to implement its planned 3 billion shekel ($851 million) budget cut, but the Defense Ministry and the Israel Defense Forces say that the planned budget cut in fact amounts to 7 billion shekels ($1.9 billion), and are requesting an additional 4 billion shekels ($1.1 billion).
Speaking at a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee meeting, Defense Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya'aon said the planned 3 billion shekel cut became 7 billion because of rising prices and payments that are out of the IDF's control, such as electricity, municipal taxes, additional stipends for injured soldiers, and added benefits as a result of the raised age of retirement for IDF career personnel.
Ya'alon attacked the Finance Ministry for not upholding its side of an agreement signed three years ago to adjust the salaries of career IDF personnel in line with their increased age of retirement.
He also lashed out at the Finance Ministry during a heated Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee debate.
"The Finance Ministry is acting against all rules of fair conduct. I am ashamed to be a government minister," he said.
"This is an agreement that was signed three years ago. Trying to somehow connect it to the current defense budget debate is foolish. It is a plain breach of contract. The Finance Ministry is taking advantage of the fact that the Defense Ministry cannot strike. It is unacceptable that a quarter of IDF career personnel have to seek additional sources of income."
Finance Ministry clerks came under fire in the debate when Wages Director Kobi Amsalem and Budgets Department Deputy Director Meir Bing joined the discussion. MK Haim Katz (Likud) called the Finance Ministry clerks "thugs [who] do not know how to run a corner store; thanks to them, IDF career personnel will have to look for food in the garbage at age 50."
Amsalem responded to the allegations, saying he regretted "the delays that arose out of constraints not related to any of us. The government in the end makes all decisions; it is not done on the whim of a clerk."
At the end of the meeting, Katz announced he was planning on drafting a law himself to cancel raising the retirement age.
"I know it will take time and will not be automatic," Katz said. "I will speak with the finance minister to solve this disgrace."