If a public committee on whether the state should buy an Israeli version of Air Force 1 gets its way, stories about enormous sums being spent on flying the country’s leaders around the world will disappear from the headlines.
Channel 2 reported Wednesday that a committee headed by former Supreme Court justice and state comptroller Eliezer Goldenberg recommended purchasing a plane for $70 million to serve the president and prime minister.
The committee also recommended building a new joint office and residence for the prime minister, at a cost of some NIS 800m.
The committee weighed various economic and security aspects, and its recommendations will be presented to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who established the committee. If he adopts the recommendations, they will go to the cabinet for approval.
Since 2001, the country has rented planes from Israeli airline companies for the president’s and prime minister’s trips abroad. Up until that time, an old Air Force Boeing 707 was at their disposal, but it was eventually decommissioned.
While every government since Ariel Sharon’s has discussed purchasing a plane, the issue has been considered a political “hot potato,” since any prime minister who approves it will be accused of lavishness – and avoided.