Israeli Soldiers’ Pay to Be Boosted 50% as of the Beginning of 2016

Panel of Finance and Justice Ministry representatives hope raising soldiers’ pay will make it easier for draftees to meet their living expenses away from the IDF.

Ariel Hermoni / Defense Ministry

A panel of Finance Ministry and Justice Ministry representatives decided last week to give Israel Defense Force soldiers doing their mandatory military service a 50% pay raise as of January 1.

The pay of soldiers in positions deemed desk jobs, as opposed to positions in the field, will be increased by 270 shekels ($70) from 540 shekels a month to 810 shekels ($210). Draftees whose positions are deemed combat support will get 1,170 shekels a month, an increase of 390 shekels. Monthly pay for combat soldiers will go from 1,080 shekels to 1,620 shekels. The panel’s aim in raising soldiers’ pay is to make it easier for draftees to meet their living expenses away from the IDF.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who as Kulanu party leader made soldiers’ salaries an issue in this year’s election campaign, made it a plank in the coalition agreement. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s Hayabit Hayehudi party also made an increase in soldiers’ pay a provision of its own coalition pact.

Due to cuts in the spending amounts originally contained in the coalition agreements, the sums allocated for pay raises for soldiers’ salaries were cut from 1.3 billion shekels to 600 to 700 million a year.

Defense Ministry director general Dan Harel was invited by the Finance Ministry to participate as a member of the panel, but chose to absent himself from the meetings. Likud’s coalition agreement with Habayit Hayehudi called for the pay panel to be headed by the defense minister, but Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon objected to providing pay raises to conscripts, as a matter of principle, saying that any additional funding should go to a fund to be paid to the soldiers on their completion of military service to give them a reasonable sum of money to fall back on as they reenter civilian life. Ya’alon also objected to pay levels being influenced by political parties, saying that it served to politicize the army.

Kahlon has allocated 700 million shekels in his proposed 2016 government budget for increases in soldiers’ pay. It is separate from the defense budget and would be earmarked only for this purpose.