Photo Credit: Tomer Neuberg; Ayal Margolin/Flash90
Smotrich (R) vs. Gallant

After the defense ministry refused in recent months to carry out the agreement signed by the prime minister, finance minister, and defense minister that conditioned approval of a revised 2024 budget on the establishment of a public commission to examine the defense budget, on Wednesday night, the finance and defense ministers finally reached an agreement on establishing the commission.

The commission will consist of two representatives each of the prime minister, defense minister, and finance minister, as well as representatives of the Bank of Israel, the IDF, the NSA, and the National Economic Council. The new agreement was forwarded to the prime minister for signing, following which the commission will convene and begin its work.


The commission will recommend the size of the defense budget, mark its sources and uses according to an order of priorities to be established, and ensure that Israeli taxpayers’ money is being used optimally to maintain the state’s security.

As I reported last week, the crux of the clash between the security establishment and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has to do with the Lockheed Martin F-35, the latest-generation stealth multirole combat aircraft designed for air superiority and strike missions, that comes with electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities (Security Establishment Targets Smotrich, the ‘Little Minister Who Won’t Buy More F-35s’).

As so many military experts, including, naturally, General (Ret.) Itzhak Brick have pointed out, the IDF does not need right now more billion-dollar planes. It needs to double its number of tanks and do the same with its artillery. It needs to raise the number of career infantry and armored corps soldiers and officers. Instead of pouring so many billions of dollars on even more F-35s, buy more tanks, for heavens’ sake.

Buy Everything! US Air Force F-35 Lightning II, F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-22 Raptor, A-10C Thunderbolt II and P-51 Mustang. / Airman 1st Class Michael Beyer

Minister Smotrich issued the following statement Wednesday night:

“Establishing the commission to examine the defense budget is an important step for the economy and security. The events of October 7 and Operation Iron Swords that we have been conducting since then undermined many of the basic assumptions based on which were decided the building of power, the intensification, and the defense budget, which necessitates their re-examination and adaptation to the current threat map, while maintaining a correct balance between all the needs of the economy and while building effective implementation mechanisms for the Security budget, transparently and under constant control.
The role of the commission will be to recommend the size of the required defense budget, mark its sources and uses according to the order of priorities that will be established, and make sure that the money of the citizens of Israel will be used optimally while maintaining the security of the state. We will make sure, with God’s help, that it will be so.
We all have a lot to learn and correct since October 7, and the establishment of the commission is a first step in the right direction.”

In early May, Defense Minister Gallant criticized Smotrich’s intention to limit the defense budget. In an exchange between them regarding the purchase of two squadrons from the US, Gallant stated, “The Israeli perception that it is possible to provide increased security with less money, in the face of threats that are only increasing along with additional combat units, is a misconception that needs to change. The State of Israel should invest twice as much in the defense budget – this is our main insurance policy and we received proof of this only a few weeks ago (by which he meant the Iranian missile attack – DI).”

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