The cash-strapped Israel Defense Forces and the Treasury came to an agreement on Monday that will see the Defense Ministry receive an additional NIS 1 billion ($289 million) in return for turning over an air force base for civilian real estate development.
In a deal struck between the Finance Ministry, the Israel Lands Administration and the Defense Ministry, evacuation of the military section of the Sde Dov Airport in northern Tel Aviv is slated to be completed by 2017.
The Finance Ministry said in a statement that the exchange will enable the defense establishment to deal with the budget challenges facing the Defense Ministry and the IDF in 2014, the Ynet news site reported.
Sde Dov airfield is located along the coast of northern Tel Aviv on prime suburban real estate. Although the airstrip is mainly used for internal civilian flights, nearly half of the site is taken up by the Israel Air Force, which conducts supply and personnel flights from the base.
According to the terms of the deal, the Defense Ministry will evacuate some 80 acres of land on the base by the end of the year. The demilitarizing of the land is part of a general plan to relocate large army bases away from the central, heavily populated region of the country and move them down to the sparsely populated south. The cleared land is to be zoned for tens of thousands of residential housing units.
The Defense Ministry also agreed to not request any more funding until the end of 2014, the report said.
Earlier this month, the IDF canceled all training flights because of a severe budget crunch. In May, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz ordered reserves training canceled for the rest of the year.