The Ministerial Committee on Security Affairs will meet on Tuesday to decide whether every Cabinet minister needs a bodyguard, or if it is a luxury costing millions of shekels a year that Israel can do without.
The committee, which is chaired by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will weigh opposing recommendations by the Counter Terrorism Bureau (CTB) and security officers from the Prime Minister’s Office, Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Monday.
The CTB, which is a division of the National Security Council, has recommended establishing a body to assign personal bodyguards only in special cases when there are direct threats against a particular minister, or for special circumstances, such as tours of the West Bank and travels abroad. The CTB recommendations did not include removing security details from ministers’ homes.
If approved, the move would save approximately NIS 120 million ($32 million) annually.
The CTB report was to be addressed by the committee three weeks ago, but when some of the Prime Minister’s Office security officers objected, the discussion was delayed.
The officers cautioned that in light of threats and current dangers, it is imperative to continue with existing security arrangements.
Some of the ministers supported the reservations expressed by the prime minister’s security officers. Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch told Yedioth that he believes there is room to reduce the current security detail for ministers, but that a body should be formed to determine the particulars.
Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman has also expressed opposition to the budget cuts.
Netanyahu has been among those who support the CTB recommendations, as have Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen and CTB director Eitan Ben-David.
The private security detail is not being reconsidered for the seven primary positions of governmental leadership (president, prime minister, defense minister, foreign minister, head of opposition, Knesset speaker and president of the Supreme Court).
In 2007, Labor head Shelly Yachimovitch and Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar (currently the education minister) proposed a bill in the Knesset stating that only those seven leaders would require personal bodyguards. The motion failed.
Currently every minister has a security detail made up of 10-12 people. Thirteen current ministers have described the existing model as “awkward” and have requested to forego their personal bodyguards. However, the prime minister rejected their requests on the advise of his security staff.
|Like us on Facebook||Get our newsletter||Follow us on Twitter|