The Joint Committee for the Defense Budget, headed by MK Tzachi Hanegbi, approved on Sunday the defense budget for 2016, which will stand at NIS 56.1 billion. An additional NIS 3 billion will be added to the budget during the year, as well as another billion to absorb price increases, on the condition that the Defense Ministry will carry out a series of measures to increase efficiency.

Eight committee members voted in favor of the budget; four opposed.

A week ago the committee decided not to support a NIS 56.1 billion budget, saying it would not allow the IDF to fulfil its missions. However, the Political-Security Cabinet approved the understandings reached between the Treasury and Defense Ministry, and the government asked the committee to change its position on the matter.

”The decision we reached during the last meeting not to approve the budget was unprecedented, and it expedited the talks between the Treasury and Defense Ministry,” MK Hanegbi said. ”Now we were able to support wholeheartedly the changes that were presented to us – due to the budget increase and the IDF`s commitment to carry our crucial structural changes, and mainly due to the agreement to adopt a multi-year plan that will provide certainty, flexibility and stability to the most important system in the country.”

Ministry of Finance budget director Amir Levy said the additional NIS 3 billion will be transferred to the Defense Ministry under the condition that it carries out a number of measures to increase efficiency, including military personnel cuts, increasing transparency and oversight, shortening army service for active-duty soldiers, raising the retirement age for non-commissioned officers, and more.

Defense Minister Director-General Dan Harel said the understandings with the Treasury were based on mutual trust, while Finance Ministry Director-General Shai Babad said that should the Defense Ministry fail to live up to the agreed-upon commitments, the Treasury will not transfer the additional money during the year.