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Defense, finance ministries agree on NIS 150 million to boost northern defenses

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Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon announce NIS 150 million toward strengthening Israel’s northern border on January 11, 2018… (photo credit: YONI RIKNER)

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon have agreed to allocate NIS 150 million to strengthen and fortify buildings in the north and to create a team to examine the defense establishment’s demand for an increase in the state’s budget.

The team will present its recommendations to the Security Cabinet.

“The agreement we reached will enable, among other things, the implementation of the plan to fortify the northern communities.  We will work together to improve the preparedness of those communities,” Liberman said on Thursday, thanking Kahlon for the joint work on the issue.

“The conclusion we reached proves once again that the defense minister and I know how to reach agreements without quarreling with the media,” said Kahlon, adding that “our soldiers and state security are above all. And we must fulfill all our obligations. “

In November Liberman accused the Ministry of Finance of stalling to fund the implementation of a 2014 government decision to increase protection for the Homefront, especially for communities in the north, which he said was severely lacking compared to southern Israel.

During a meeting in Haifa with local officials and representatives from the Home Front Command, Interior Ministry, Defense Ministry and others, Liberman urged them to demand that the government implement decisions taken in 2014 to allocate NIS 150 million annually for 10 years in order close the protection gaps throughout the country.

Later that month Liberman asked for an increase of NIS 4.8 billion to the IDF’s budget, citing “significant” security changes which have dramatically changed Israel’s security situation, including the massive Russian presence in Syria, precision weapons in the hands of groups like Hezbollah as well as the dramatic acceleration of Iran’s military industry.

As the war in Syria seems to be winding down in Assad’s favor, Israel fears that Iran will help Hezbollah produce accurate precision-guided missiles and help Hezbollah and other Shiite militias to strengthen their foothold in the Golan Heights.

The defense minister had explained that “the coalition agreement has a clause that specifically states that if there is a significant change (in the region), we can ask for additional funds.”

The IDF believes that the next war on the northern border will not be contained to one front, but along the entire northern border with both Lebanon and Syria. The military also expects that during the next war with Hezbollah the terror group try to bring the fight to the home front by infiltrating Israeli communities to inflict significant civilian and military casualties.

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