The government on Sunday ratified an across-the-board 2% cut in the budgets of all state ministries to pay for Operation Protective Edge. Two ministers – Housing Minister Uri Ariel and Environment Minister Amir Peretz – voted against the cuts. Abstaining were Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, Elderly Affairs Minister Uri Ariel, and Negev and Galilee Development Minister Silvan Shalom.
Ariel said that he was opposed to a multi-year budget cut, and said he preferred to see a one-time budget cut to pay for Protective Edge expenses. He also criticized the fact that he and the other ministers were informed about the cuts just minutes before the onset of Shabbat on Friday evening, giving them almost no time to digest the information and raise objections.
The 2% cut amounts to a NIS 1.9 billion reduction in ministry budgets, but further cuts should be expected, because the Defense Ministry's budget is likely to be increased. At Sunday's cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that while Israel had many needs, “security comes first. I hope we will have quiet for a long time to come, but we are prepared for any scenario on the Gaza front and other fronts,” Netanyahu said at the meeting, which took place in the offices of the Ashkelon Regional Council.
The NIS 1.9 billion will be funneled to paying off expenses associated with the recent Gaza war, including allocations for compensation for residents, businesses, and farmers. That plan alone will be worth some NIS 1.5 billion, Netanyahu said. More money will be allocated later on for development projects to enhance growth in southern communities, with benefits provided for new residents and businesses that open up in communities near Gaza.