Bennett Hesitates on Pricey Plane for PM

YERUSHALAYIM -

Israel’s own version of “Air Force One” is ready for use, but Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has yet to decide whether he will ever board the aircraft ordered by his predecessor, Binyamin Netanyahu.

The Boeing 767 has been approved for flight operations, at the disposal of the president and prime minister, but remains on the tarmac until its fate is decided, Globes reported on Tuesday.

Some $300 million have been invested in the renovating the 20-year-old aircraft over several years, which has been a matter of controversy due to the expense involved and the association with former Prime Minister Netanyahu. Nevertheless, the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee recently approved additional outlays.

Bennett has so far not said what he will do with the plane, though Foreign Minister and Alternate PM Yair Lapid has said that he wants to sell it.

The defense establishment is in favor of using it as planned, arguing that the upgrades to the plane are important, according to a report by Ynet in September.

Opposition coordinator MK Yariv Levin (Likud) has submitted two questions for Bennett: Does he intend to use the aircraft from now on for official flights? And if not, what is the cost of each official flight abroad and what are the losses to the state of Israel by not using the aircraft?