Defense Minister Benny Gantz will reportedly get a security motorcade similar to that of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu due to his new role as alternate prime minister.
The new security arrangements will come at a cost of NIS 23 million ($6.6 million) per year, Channel 12 reported Wednesday.
Gantz will also be eligible for a police escort, with vehicles specifically designated for his use, the report said.
As no money was set aside for the motorcade in the current state budget, funding for it will have to come from cuts elsewhere, the network said.
Gantz said Tuesday that any suggestion he requested the security arrangements or luxury vehicles was a “blatant lie,” after the Globes business daily reported he would receive two Audi A8s as part of his motorcade.
לבקשת הקהל: השיירה החליפית של בני גנץ – השיירה המלאה כוללת לפחות עוד שני כלי רכב וניידת משטרה לליווי>> pic.twitter.com/pxniP7gntx
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Gantz’s office on Wednesday again denied he was interested in or had asked for such security arrangements. However, the Channel 12 report said the motorcade came with his title of alternate prime minister, which necessitated security treatment by the Shin Bet similar to that of the prime minister, and may not be entirely up to him.
The report said that the upgraded security arrangements for the person holding the role of alternate prime minister, in addition to those received as defense minister, were necessitated by the coalition agreement signed by Netanyahu and Gantz.
The report prompted strong criticism from a lawmaker in the Yesh Atid party, formerly allied with Gantz, which broke away over Gantz’s decision to join a government with Netanyahu.
“While one million unemployed people don’t know how they’ll make ends meet and small businesses are collapsing everywhere, Gantz is occupied with himself from morning to night,” MK Mickey Levy said, referring to the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a report in the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper on Thursday, sources in Gantz’s office said the Blue and White leader would like to reduce the costs and limit his personal security, saying claims he had personally demanded the extensive security arrangements were a “blatant lie.”
Meanwhile, an unnamed source in Netanyahu’s office said that Gantz “wants to at least feel like a prime minister even if he doesn’t become a real prime minister.”
The Alternate Prime Minister’s Office was officially created Sunday during a cabinet meeting. It will be held by Gantz for 18 months before it is transferred to Netanyahu as part of a power-sharing deal designed to allow him to keep the prime ministerial title even after vacating the post.