Public Panel Recommends: Buy Private Jet for PM

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara. Credit: Kobi Gideon / Government Press Office

A public commission has recommended purchasing a private jet to be used by the prime minister and president for trips abroad, at a cost of roughly $70 million including defense systems. The commission also recommended constructing a new dwelling for the prime minister, to be located adjacent to the Prime Minister’s Office, the upkeep for which could cost no more than 10 percent of the PMO’s annual budget.

The commission, led by former Supreme Court justice and state comptroller Eliezer Goldberg and including former Israel Air Force commander Ido Nehushtan as well as accountant Iris Stark, was created by the government in December 2013.

At the initiative of Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, it was decided then that the commission would submit its recommendations to the entire cabinet. At first, it was proposed that the panel would submit its recommendations directly to the prime minister. Yesh Atid ministers voted against that notion, claiming that “during a year when the public is facing budget cuts, there’s no need to buy a plane.”

The acquisitions authority in the Defense Ministry, asked to examine the idea of purchasing a special plane for the prime minister and president, estimated a year ago that such a plane would cost between 140 and 180 million shekels, after the necessary security alterations, as well as a yearly maintenance cost of 5 million shekels. According to the estimations passed along to the Prime Minister’s Office, purchasing a plane would cost between $20 million and $30 million, depending on the model, and security alterations could cost between $10 million and $20 million. It was also stated that the cost could be spread out over a few years.

This estimation, sent to the Prime Minister’s Office roughly a year ago, is far higher than previous figures that came up on the subject.

In December 2013, Finance Minister Yair Lapid expressed opposition to the “proposition to purchase for the prime minister a plane and build a new residence for him at a cost of over 800 million shekels.”

The Finance Ministry also expressed opposition to the current proposition.

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