A gap of NIS 11.5 billion stands between the demands for the finance and defense ministries over the size of the 2013 military budget. The treasury insists that defense spending cannot exceed NIS 50.5 billion next year, while the defense establishment is firm that it can get by with no less than NIS 62 billion.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will have to decide what the final figure will be, but the decision will be a difficult one that will reverberate throughout the 2013 budget because of the huge numbers .

The cabinet is scheduled to hold tomorrow the first of three budget discussions, and it will be dedicated to the issue of defense spending. Nevertheless, knowledgeable sources say the army is likely to get most or all of what it is seeking.

Both the finance and defense ministries are basing their budget demands on the level of military spending this year. The original spending package, as approved by the cabinet and Knesset, was for NIS 54 billion. But the army received an NIS 6 billion supplement during the course of the year, raising real spending to NIS 60 billion.

The treasury insists that the supplement be discounted from the baseline budget on which 2013 spending is being built, arguing that it was a one-time addition. .

Defense officials contend that the NIS 6 billion supplement was part of the extra spending awarded to them under the Brodet committee recommendations and not a one-time addition.

The increasingly dangerous geopolitical situation demands a budget increase for next year, defense officials say.

Ay tomorrow's cabinet deliberations, the army's fiscal battle plan is to begin by discussing defense needs in general, let the ministers decide on the missions and resources needed to undertake them - and then decide on how big a defense budget is required.