Netanyahu eyes big money for defence

ISRAEL-US-IRAN-POLITICS-NUCLEARIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday said he was supporting an increase in defence spending in the upcoming 2015 budget in opposition to the stance of the finance minister, which may lead to the collapse of his political coalition.

“The billions we’ve invested in Israel’s defence in recent years saved the Israeli economy… Due to the threats in our area we need a substantial increment of billions in the defence budget, and we must do so in a responsible way without a great deficit,” Netanyahu said at the fourth international cyber convention held at the Tel Aviv University, Xinhua reported.

In his statements, Netanyahu supported the defence ministry that demanded about $3 billion increment to cover the last Gaza operations’ costs. But Finance Minister Yair Lapid only agreed to a much lower increment.

The standoff between Netanyahu and Lapid may bring about the collapse of the former’s coalition and thus summon new elections, as Lapid’s party has the same number of parliament seats as Netanyahu’s Likud party. That means if Lapid withdraws from the coalition there would be new elections.

The two met Sunday afternoon but did not reach any agreements.

Earlier on Sunday, the finance ministry presented a budget proposal to the prime minister, according to which the deficit would grow from 3 to 3.18 percent of the gross domestic product.