The security details of all but the most senior government officials will be reduced, after the Ministerial Committee on Security Affairs voted Sunday to adopt cuts recommended by the Counter Terrorism Bureau (CTB).
According to the adopted measures, only the top seven officials (president, prime minister, defense minister, foreign minister, head of opposition, Knesset speaker and president of the Supreme Court) will receive 24-hour protection by bodyguards, while the rest of the ministers will receive protection based on CTB threat assessments.
The cuts are expected to save the government tens of millions of shekels a year.
The committee, which is chaired by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, weighed opposing recommendations by the CTB and security officers from the Prime Minister’s Office.
The CTB, which is a division of the National Security Council, 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.
The CTB recommendations were to be addressed by the committee a month ago, but when some of the Prime Minister’s Office security officers objected to them, the discussion was postponed.
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 Ahronoth 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.
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 advice of his security staff.
Asher Zeiger contributed to this report
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