Israel's PM Is Getting a House and a Jet Befitting a Monarch

Netanyahu resents the media for criticizing him, but goes on living a life of exorbitant luxury.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference in Washington on March 4, 2014. AFP

Prior to Independence Day the government decided to grant its leader not just one present, but two: a large jet costing $70 million and a spectacular home alongside the Prime Minister’s Office at a cost of 650 million shekels.

This is exactly how the government acts in a Third World country. It envelopes the ruling aristocracy with indulgences costing a fortune, funded by extra taxes it imposes on citizens who already can hardly make ends meet.

The method used by Benjamin Netanyahu to approve these two presents is forming a “public commission.” This practice is known to every rookie politician: He carefully choses the commission’s members in the clear knowledge that they will deliver exactly what he wants. Such a commission does not have to explain where the hundreds of millions to realize this vision will come from; it does not deal with issues such as the tax burden, or the deficit. Thus, what difficulty does it have being good to the monarchy, at the expense of the Israeli people?

Acquiring the royal airplane is particularly infuriating since Netanyahu is known as a devotee of the private sector and outsourcing. Who like he knows that the service provided by Israeli airlines El Al or Arkia will be better and cheaper than the expensive and cumbersome government service? It is clear that an aircraft leased from these two companies will be far cheaper and more efficient than the royal airplane, which will sit unused in its hanger for long weeks because the number of its annual flights will be very small.

The public commission, which understood that this deal is particularly wasteful, explained in its reasoning that “the test of economic feasibility in acquiring the plane is not the only consideration to be taken into account,” So what is there to consider? “Security considerations,” when security, as is known, is above everything else.

The new palace in Jerusalem also raises great fury. This complex will have two kitchens, dozens of rooms, courtyards, halls and a secret corridor that will link the office to the residence. It will have a nuclear bomb shelter which will protect the royal family, while their subjects, who paid for the palace, will have to meet their fate at such a moment.

The decision to invest such an enormous sum in building the new complex for the prime minister’s residence and office is disconnected from the economic and social reality of Israel. British prime ministers live in modest 10 Downing Street, and it is not known that Great Britain, which is many times richer than Israel, intends to build a complex of the type approved in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu complains that the media are spilling his blood in a savage, spiteful crusade. His latest moves, which add to reports of inflated expenses at the prime minister’s residence, prove that he has not stopped providing the justification for such a campaign. The prime minister should not put himself above the people, and he should waive this exaggerated, unnecessary expenditure.