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Israel’s Air Force One being moved into storage ‘until decision about its future’

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has never flown on Israel’s version of Air Force One and seemingly never will. The Defense Ministry indicates it is putting the Boeing 767 in mothballs, just months after it got final approval for takeoff.

The NIS 750 million ($241 million) boondoggle, dubbed “Wing of Zion,” took years to outfit. It is meant to be used by Israeli heads of state for official business. But Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and President Isaac Herzog have not touched the plane, which was closely associated with former premier and current opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

The ‘Wing of Zion,’ the Israeli version of Air Force One, is seen above Ben Gurion Airport, on its first test flight, November 3, 2019. (Yoav Weiss/Israel Aerospace Industries)

The Defense Ministry says in a statement that the plane is being moved from the Israel Aerospace Industries hangar at Ben-Gurion International Airport to the Nevatim air force base in southern Israel, where a special area has been built to house it.

“The plane will be stored on-site while being maintained, until a decision is made about how it will be used in the future,” the ministry says.

The 20-year-old 767 Boeing plane, which underwent significant renovations, includes a private office for the prime minister, a bedroom with a bathroom and shower, a fully stocked kitchen, a meeting room and even a “war room.”

In December, when the plane was given the final okay to fly,  IAI union head Yair Katz, whose father is a former Likud minister closely tied to Netanyahu, said it was “absurd that the splendor of Israeli art is collecting dust in the parking lot and is not being used for the purpose for which it was developed by IAI’s best engineers.”

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