Israel may buy own 'Air Force One'
A week after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly chose to miss Nelson Mandela's memorial service because of travel costs, Israeli ministers have voted to consider buying the country's own equivalent of America's "Air Force One".
On Sunday, they approved creating a committee to consider buying a plane for the premier and president, "as is customary in many other countries", a government statement said.
"Currently, planes are chartered from commercial companies, the cost of which frequently runs into millions of shekels per trip," the statement added.
Last week, media reported that Netanyahu cancelled plans to fly to Johannesburg for the Mandela memorial - attended by nearly 100 world leaders - over the projected costs of around seven million shekels (HK$15.5 million) for transport and security. Netanyahu has been criticised and ridiculed over his spending, including having a double bed installed on the plane that flew him to London in April for the funeral of Britain's Margaret Thatcher on a trip that cost US$127,000.
Cabinet secretary Avihai Mandelblit said purchasing a dedicated aircraft for the premier and the globe-trotting President Shimon Peres would be a wise investment and in the interests of security.
"This is a national security need that will serve the State of Israel at least for several decades," the government statement quoted him as saying.