Family members of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu will receive personal bodyguards for six months, rather than the requested two years, after a ministerial committee adopted a Shin Bet security service recommendation, according to Hebrew media reports on Thursday.
According to the Kan public broadcaster, a request was made in December — prior to the dissolution of the Knesset — for an extension of the security provided to the former premier’s wife Sara, and sons Yair and Avner, for two years from the end of Netanyahu’s term. That was rejected by the Ministerial Committee for Shin Bet Affairs, which backed a six-month detail.
Avner and Yair were the first children of any Israeli prime minister to have personal bodyguards during their father’s term in office, paid for by the public purse. Noa Netanyahu-Roth, the prime minister’s daughter, does not have guards.
The committee, headed by Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahane of the Yamina party, also accepted the Shin Bet’s recommendation that security should continue for former prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert until March 2022, when a reassessment will be made.
Security for Barak and Olmert was restored by the committee in 2018 amid reported concerns that Iran may try to target prominent Israelis. Previously, ex-premiers only received details for five years after the end of their term.
The decisions were made days after a report said the Shin Bet was seeking to renovate the Prime Minister’s Residence on the grounds that the security arrangements at the home on Jerusalem’s Balfour Street were inadequate for protecting a premier.
According to reports, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett plans to sleep at the Prime Minister’s Residence about four nights a week. The Netanyahus finally moved out over the weekend.
Bennett’s family is planning to remain at home in the central town of Ra’anana, despite criticism over the significant cost in state funds required to secure it and despite complaints from neighbors. The main reason behind the decision is to allow Bennett’s four children to continue in their current schools.
According to a Channel 13 report earlier this month, Bennett’s decision to have his family remain in Ra’anana could cost taxpayers some NIS 12-15 million ($3.6-4.6 million). That one-time cost would go toward building security stations, roadblocks, cameras and other infrastructure necessary to protect the prime minister. Further costs are expected to go toward renting nearby apartments for security officials.
Bennett is set to serve as prime minister for the next two years, before being replaced by Yesh Atid leader Foreign Minister Yair Lapid under a rotation agreement.