An Israeli panel of experts hailed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for their devotion to state security was pilloried Tuesday by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon for “gambling on the security of the citizens of Israel.”
The commission, led by retired Israel Air Force Maj. Gen. Yohanan Locker, a former military secretary and trusted adviser to Netanyahu, was appointed in May 2014 to evaluate Israeli defense spending in the context of other socio-economic needs of the state.
In findings presented Tuesday, it called for capping the defense budget at $15.5 billion annually through 2020 and myriad efficiency measures, including reduced mandatory service, higher retirement ages and restricted pension benefits for noncombatant personnel.
Among the 53 recommendations included in the 77-page report, the Locker Commission urged that some $2.5 billion in savings to be gained through efficiency measures be reinvested in Israeli defense.
It also recommended that Israel request higher levels of annual US military Foreign Military Financing (FMF) grant aid once the current $30 billion, 10-year agreement expires in 2018.