Israeli plans to significantly increase their defense budget in response to the popular upheavals throughout the Arab world may be shelved for at least a year.
Various factors, from the Israeli protesters in Tel Aviv to the global financial crisis, have led Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to consider delaying implementation of the Israeli Defense Force’s ambitious five year plan for an expanded defense budget. Instead, a deal is close to being agreed upon that would keep next year’s defense budget at current levels across the board.
The protests by Israeli citizens are about a variety of issues, from retirement benefits to mandatory military service, but preventing the expected increase in military spending may be among the accomplishments of these popular rallies.
What is notable is the stated reason for the proposed increase in spending: the Arab Spring. Faced with the potential of Arab-country policies that more closely reflect the will of the people – that is, democracy – the Israeli government saw fit to increase their militarism. This should offer a clear representation to the preferences of the Israeli government.