Bezalel Smotrich
Bezalel SmotrichAyal Margolin/Flash90

In the last 24 hours, the Ministry of Defense has been making statements against Minister of Finance Bezalel Smotrich, claiming that his ministry is blocking budgets intended for the purchase of ammunition for the IDF.

The incident is based on a proposal by Minister Smotrich to cancel the Chief of Staff's pension increases for military pensions that have no legal basis.

The Finance Ministry claims that "the Chief of Staff's increases amount to 1.2 billion shekels, and at this time, when Israel is at war, and security priorities are changing, continuing expenditure on this scale raises questions and generates much opposition."

The proposed decision distributed to the ministries states: "In view of the changes in security challenges that formed the basis of the multi-year agreement between the Ministry of Defense and the IDF for the years 2023 to 2027, which was approved by Resolution No. 683 on June 25, 2023, and the extensive budget changes in the defense budget for the years 2023 and 2024, and the forecast for changes from the year 2025 onwards, and deviating from the multi-year agreement, instruct the Minister of Defense and the Minister of Finance to amend the legislative amendments regarding the component of service completion in the pension of a soldier entitled to a retirement pension under section 10 of the Permanent Service Law, so that starting from the pension paid for January 2025, the said component as calculated in the legislative drafts distributed, will be paid only to those whose pension amount without the said completion component is lower than the median wage in the market as published in the 2021 expenditure survey by the Central Bureau of Statistics, adjusted to changes in the average wage in the market, and in an amount not exceeding the amount required to complete the pension to the adjusted median wage.''

Sources in the Finance Ministry responded to the statements against them, saying: "What troubles the heads of the defense system is this proposed decision. The ammunition purchases were not halted for a moment; the purchase of new fighter jets is an event that will not materialize in the next decade."

"The Supreme Court discussion on Thursday about the Chief of Staff's increases and the lack of legal authority under which they are implemented is what causes the heads of the defense system to stress and speak about things that are not true," they added.

Minister Smotrich said it was "fake news." "There is no restriction on ammunition and all war needs. Period. Those same senior officials in the defense system who failed stand behind the false campaign so that they can continue to squander tens of billions of our money without any accountability or oversight.''

"I will not give up on my demand, agreed upon with the Prime Minister, to establish a professional committee to review the defense budget. I will not allow the misconception to be rebuilt," said Smotrich.