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Support Sought to Halt Further Budget Cuts

The Defense Ministry is actively seeking public support in opposition to proposed cuts in the military budget. The Ministry has already pared its budget request for fiscal 1972 by about $250 million but is fighting further cuts demanded by Finance Minister Pinhas Sapir in a general economy drive. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan will go on television tomorrow night to argue that the proposed cuts would seriously effect Israel’s military strength at a crucial time.

Sapir has stated that Israel’s defense needs are sacrosanct but believes that many items can be eliminated from the armed forces budget which would not reduce Israel’s fighting power. He promised not to touch monies needed to purchase aircraft and other essential military hardware abroad. Defense Ministry officials argue that the proposed cuts would hamper the development of Israel’s armored strength. They say 1972 will be a year of decision, either military or political, and that in either case Israel must deal with her foes from a position of strength.

The officials stress that Soviet Russia appears ready to increase its active involvement in any military confrontation between Israel and Egypt while the United States is increasingly reluctant to be drawn into any such confrontation. The military men say the national budget can be balanced without further cuts in the defense budget. Labor and management spokesmen expressed opposing views in a meeting with Sapir on a new wage-price policy for next year.

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