Treasury Unsure How Netanyahu Will Fulfill His Pledge to Public Security Ministry

The prime minister has promised hundreds of millions as a way to get Likud MK Gilad Erdan into the cabinet.

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Gilad Erdan and Silvan Shalom at the ministerial handing over ceremony.
Gilad Erdan and Silvan Shalom at the ministerial handing over ceremony.Credit: Emil Salman
Zvi Zrahiya
Zvi Zrahiya

Aides to Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said Wednesday they did not know where the money would come from to secure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledge to the Public Security Ministry.

Netanyahu has promised an additional 300 million shekels ($77 million) for that ministry next year and an additional 500 million shekels in 2017. The pledge was one of the provisions in Netanyahu’s agreement to get Gilad Erdan, a fellow Likud member, into the cabinet as public security minister.

In an apparent reference to the prime minister, aides to Kahlon suggested that the person keen on providing the funds should make clear the source of the funding.

For its part, Erdan’s office issued its own statement. “The prime minister has committed to providing the budget supplement, and Erdan is certain that it will be provided,” it said.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu said the funds may come from the defense budget. But Knesset sources said the funding would be found during the cabinet and Knesset debate on the 2016 budget. The money is expected to be found because it is modest compared to the billions of shekels that have been promised to other parties.

Kahlon, the head of the Kulanu party, has already had to accommodate the financial commitments that Netanyahu made to the two ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, as part of their agreement to join the coalition. He has also had to adjust to the financial demands that Naftali Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi party made as a condition for getting on board.

During the negotiations, Kahlon demanded that any financial commitment to a coalition partner be made in coordination with him as finance minister.

Erdan was sworn in Monday as public security minister, strategic affairs minister and public diplomacy minister. One of his conditions for joining the cabinet was increased funding for the Public Security Ministry, which has overall responsibility for law enforcement including the police, the prisons and safety-related functions including the fire and rescue service.

The additional funding is to be used mainly to boost the police. This is to include the opening of new police stations in Arab areas in coordination with local leaders and governments.

Erdan plans to recruit additional police to serve in cities as well. The police in Israel are a national force and have no real counterpart on the municipal level.