MKs mull canceling security for ministers

The safety of Knesset members was a popular item of debate this week, as security officials responded to a threat against several Shas Party MKs, while other lawmakers submitted a private member's bill to do away with security for most ministers. The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) uncovered a threat this week against four Shas MKs who live in the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem. Ministers Eli Yishai, Ariel Attias and Meshulam Nehari already had full-time security protection provided by their respective ministries. MK Haim Amsalem, however, was provided with security guards from the Knesset following the threat. Earlier in the week, MKs Gideon Sa'ar (Likud) and Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) submitted a bill that would revoke the practice of assigning security personnel to each cabinet member. The bill would amend the existing General Security Service bill. Rather than guarding all the ministers, the bill would provide Shin Bet security to seven leaders that are designated as "national leadership symbols," specifically the prime minister, president, Supreme Court chief justice, Knesset speaker, defense minister, foreign minister and opposition leader. More than NIS 100 million is spent each year providing security for the 26 cabinet ministers. Each official's ministry is responsible for shouldering the cost of the security guards, who are hired by a private company but trained by the Shin Bet.