I went to the wedding this week of a young Israel man who has been declared 90 percent handicapped and who has received the IDF chief of general staff medal of honor. During battle, the soldier had taken off his flak jacket, saving an injured soldier by his side. Moments later, he was hit by six lead bullets.
If officials in the Finance Ministry want to affect this man's rehabilitation payments, then they should go ahead and do it. After all, why are they looking for a pretext just to slash the defense budget? Their decision has nothing to do with the military -- the decision is a moral and national one.
And the same goes for salaries. A citizen who chooses to devote his or her life to the Israel Defense Forces ought to be rewarded with a middle class standard of living and no less. But there's a problem: the issue of early retirement. There's no solution to it. It infuriates our citizens. Are they going to solve the issue? If they do, then what does the Finance Ministry really want?
On Thursday, Finance Minister Yair Lapid wondered why, several months after the budget was approved, Defense Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon began demanding another 4.5 billion shekels ($1.3 billion), trying to strong-arm the Finance Ministry into transferring 2.75 billion shekels ($780 million) immediately.
Here's the answer. Shortly before the national budget was approved, defense expenditures were the last issue to be discussed. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Ya'alon and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz to resist exceeding the national budget, promising them discussions at a later date. If Finance Ministry officials did not know that, then indeed it's because they were sleeping at the wheel. Anyway, they knew; they are feigning surprise.
Certainly, the defense budget has plenty of fat that needs trimming. There was a committee under David Brodet. It promised the IDF quiet for a decade. The Finance Ministry failed to uphold its duties, and now Ya'alon wants a Brodet Committee version 2.0. That's good. It also proves that, his vast experience notwithstanding, the defense minister is still innocent.
Mainly, it turns out that there are tax surpluses that the Finance Ministry is hiding from government ministers. It's unclear whether Lapid told Netanyahu what the exact amount was. But, from the outset, it was said that if surpluses exist, the IDF will be the first to benefit from them.
Other sources of revenue also exist. Laundered money in cash moves freely through the national market, openly and unhindered. At the same time, Israel is on the road to huge revenues from exporting natural gas. There are plenty of good reasons to resist bullish sales. We do not want to end up damaging the market, which is what happened in the Netherlands and Germany.
Beautiful, and if that's the case, then we should designate a tiny, fixed percent from gas export revenues not to facets in the market liable to damage but to beefing up the military and training.
There was a moment this week that granted Ya'alon and his colleagues the opportunity to gloat. The Finance Ministry thought that angry Israeli citizens would demonstrate against the IDF over its request for additional budget. It appears as though the Finance Ministry forgot that the IDF is made up of citizens who won't participate in its defamation.