Israel to Boost Missile Defense Systems With $8 Billion Over Decade

Budget for anti-missile batteries to address what defense officials say is a major increase in the threats that Israel faces

An Israeli Arrow anti-ballistic missile is test fired in Israel, March 26, 2007.
AP

The Defense Ministry is expected to spend 30 billion shekels ($8.3 billion) over the next decade on the country’s missile-defense system – including a 15-billion-shekel increase to be submitted for approval by the security cabinet Sunday, most of which is for missile defense.

The plan calls for 3 billion shekels a year to be spent on missile defense between 2019 and 2028, half of which would come from the existing defense budget and half from the spending boost. The increase would come from the Finance Ministry and is not expected to result in cuts at other ministries.

The new plan would supersede an existing multiyear plan on defense spending that Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon worked out with the previous defense minister, Moshe Ya’alon. Defense officials said the 15-billion-shekel addition was necessary due to the major increase in threats that Israel faces.

The spending increase should settle demands that the current defense minister, Avidgor Lieberman, has made over the past year; the figure surpasses anything he has asked for.

But a senior Defense Ministry official called the announced boost to missile-defense spending “gimmicks” in the run-up to the next Knesset election, which must be held by late next year.

The Iron Dome anti-missile system in action in 2014.
Tsafrir AbayovAP

“No serious discussion has occurred yet,” the official said. “There is no agreement,” he added, saying that the discussions have been limited to the issue in principle and that at this point there have actually been 8.3 billion shekels in cuts to defense spending.