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Bennett: Don't Hurt Reservists

Economics minister comes out swinging against cut in Pillar of Defense reservists' pay.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 4/17/2013, 9:21 PM

Naftali Bennett
Naftali Bennett
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Economics and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett asked Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Wednesday to hold an urgent cabinet discussion next Sunday regarding the plan to cut the bonus to reservists who served in Gaza during Operation Pillar of Defense.

The IDF recently circulated an announcement regarding a change in the method of calculating reservists' bonuses for the operation, which are to be paid at the end of this month.

This change, it turned out, would reduce the amount the reservists are to be paid.

Before the change, reservists who served 20 days and upward in the past year were placed in the third pay grade, making them eligible for a substantially larger bonus than those who served less than 20 days. However, the new circular specified that the second pay grade has been extended by seven days, and that only reservists who served 27 days would make it into the third pay grade.

Bennett sent a letter to Netanyahu saying, "I cannot agree to let reservists who fought in Operation Desert Pillar be hurt.  Reserve soldiers' enlistment to defend their homeland entitles them to a bonus, and certainly not to a fine.

"I will demand at the cabinet session that the necessary budget be found for the reservists, and if it is not, I will take action inside the government to find it. The human capital and the spirit of volunteering are the basis of our economy, even in days of budgetary difficulty.

"On all days, and especially on days when there is a need for preserving volunteerism among the citizens of Israel, I think we are all in agreement that there is a need to defend the rights of our reservists," Bennett added.