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Finance to Defense: Buy Israeli Boots or No Budget

Finance Committee meeting determines no budget transfers to Ministry of Defense until pledge to buy Israeli boots, demands deal by weekend.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 11/18/2013, 1:55 PM

Military boots (illustrative)
Military boots (illustrative)
Flash 90

The Knesset Finance Committee held an urgent meeting Monday regarding the impending closure of the Israeli company Brill, longtime supplier of IDF boots. Committee members issued a statement saying they would "stop budget transfers to the security forces until they obligate to order boots from Brill."

Furthermore, Finance Committee Chairman Nissan Slominski (Jewish Home/Bayit Yehudi) instructed representatives of the Ministry of Defense to reach a deal with the Israeli boot manufacturer by the end of the week.

On November 3 the IDF cancelled its orders from Brill due to budget cuts. Having lost the 10,000 boot order, Brill announced it would have to consider closing its factories.

Slominski said regarding the Ministry of Defense, "the claim of lacking 32 million shekels ($9.08 million) to purchase boots is a joke in context of the overall framework" in which the Finance Committee recently provided several billion shekels in additional defense funds.

Members of the Committee criticized Defense Ministry plans to outsource boots to foreign companies, remarking "security is also social security, industrial security."

Meanwhile the strategic importance of buying Israeli products was also emphasized at the meeting.

MK Yoni Chetboun (Jewish Home) remarked that "in wartime, how is a logistics officer supposed to pick up the phone and say ‘Barack (Obama), do you mind sending us 1000 pairs of size 43 boots?' It’s not realistic. Following the Second Lebanon War, we saw how important it was to have immediate availability of army boots."

In response to claims that Brill boots were not as well designed, Chetboun said "in order that no one should make up stories, I ran for ten years in these boots, as a soldier, officer and commander in the army. For ten years in combat and in the field - perfect."

Regarding Brill's higher price compared to American boots, Brill Acquisitions Manager Shimon Horowitz acknowledged that his company's shoes are 9%-11% more expensive, but noted that the Ministry of Defense CEO told Brill there's preference for Israeli products and Brill could be up to 15% more expensive. 

Back in early 2012 Brill was in a similarly tight spot as the IDF stated its intention then to buy from American manufacturers.