Israel to Boost Missile Defense Systems With $8 Billion Over Decade

The Defense Ministry is expected to spend 30 billion shekels ($8.3 billion) over the next decade on the country’s missile defense system. The sum includes a 15 billion shekel spending increase that is to be submitted to the security cabinet next Sunday for its approval, most of which is for missile defense.

The plan calls for 3 billion shekels a year to be spent on missile defenses between 2019 and 2028, half of which will come from the existing defense budget and half from the boost to defense spendings. The increased spending will come from the Finance Ministry and is not expected to result in cuts from other government ministries.

In practice, the new plan would supersede an existing multiyear plan on defense spending that Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon worked out with then-Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. Defense officials said the 15 billion shekel increase was necessary due to the major increase in threats that Israel faces.

It should settle demands that the current defense minister, Avidgor Lieberman, has made over the course of the past year for increased defense spending. The figure surpasses anything that Lieberman had previously asked for.

A senior Defense Ministry official, however, called the announced boost to the missile defense budget "gimmicks" in anticipation of the next Knesset elections, which must be held by late next year.

Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system in action in 2014 during the war that Israel fought against Hamas and its allies in the Gaza Strip.Tsafrir AbayovAP

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"No serious discussion has yet occurred," the official said. "There is no agreement," he added, saying that the discussions have been limited to the issue in principle and that at this point, there have actually been 8.3 billion shekels in cuts to defense spending.