Israel’s government has reached agreement on a multi-year defense budget, that will be incorporated into the broader 2023-2024 state budget currently being devised.
The offices of the prime minister, defense minister, finance minister and military chief released a joint statement on Thursday morning announcing the deal, under which “provision has been made for issues regarding compulsory service, the strengthening and equipping of the IDF, a career service model, the salaries of career personnel and pensions.”
In an unsourced report, Channel 12 said the budget would amount to 68 billion shekels ($18.8 billion) for the upcoming fiscal year.
“This is an important achievement for the security of Israel and the Israeli economy, a multi-year plan that will ensure the stability and strengthening of the IDF,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the statement.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich added: “The first responsibility of the government of Israel is to see to the security of the citizens of Israel, and this is what was before my eyes during the budget discussions with the Defense Ministry. The multi-year plan is great news for the IDF, the Defense Ministry and the State of Israel. With God’s help, the plan will allow the IDF to maintain the resilience and strength of the State of Israel, and to prepare for the various security challenges.”
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant welcomed the agreement, saying it would “enable the advancing of security in a period that is replete with challenges and risks. The budget will allow the IDF and the Defense Ministry to prepare for the threats we face and to preserve their quality personnel, which we need.”
For his part, IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi said the budget will allow the military to “implement a multi-year plan that is adapted to the security challenges in the coming years, alongside maintaining quality personnel, especially combat soldiers and young career officers.”
Smotrich last week presented to Netanyahu the draft 2023-2024 state budget, which must be approved by the Knesset by May 28. Until the new budget is approved, government ministries will continue to be funded under the framework of the 2022 version.
Smotrich pledged fiscal responsibility and a frugal economic policy. Israel posted its first budget surplus in 35 years in 2022, at 0.6% of the gross domestic product. However, the forecasts for this fiscal year are more pessimistic. S&P Global Ratings projects a deficit of 2% of GDP for 2023.
The proposed state budget for 2023 amounts to 484 billion shekels (about $138 billion), up from 452.5 billion shekels (some $129 billion) in 2022.