Bennett Vows to Oppose Defense Budget if Locker Report Isn’t First Discussed

Bennett has praised report on needed reform in defense budget, terming it 'a courageous report for a courageous army,' but senior IDF officers and defense minister blasted report.

Michal Fattal

The Habayit Hayehudi party announced Thursday that its ministers will vote against approving the defense budget in the cabinet if the Locker committee’s report on reforming that budget isn’t discussed first.

The party’s chairman, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, informed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of this last night. Habayit Hayehudi has two cabinet ministers – Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.

On Thursday Bennett spoke by phone with several other ministers in an effort to muster enough support to force Netanyahu to hold a thorough cabinet discussion of the report before the ministers approve the state budget next month. If enough ministers demand such a discussion, the prime minister would find it hard to refuse.

Bennett has praised the Locker report over the past few days, terming it “a courageous report for a courageous army.” In contrast, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and other senior IDF officers have all blasted the report.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Immigrant Absorption Minister Zeev Elkin have also spoken in favor of the report. But other cabinet ministers have yet to voice their opinion publicly.

Bennett wants the cabinet to adopt most of the report’s recommendations. These include making the defense budget more transparent, giving the National Security Council oversight of it, altering the IDF’s pension system, and shielding training funds from cuts.