Newsflash: the Israeli government has appointed a committee headed by a former judge and state comptroller to decide whether it is justifiable to purchase a VIP aircraft to fly the prime minister and president on official visits.
This hot potato has been in the oven for the last ten years, but until now no one dared to take a bite.
As I have written before – the need is clear, but the senior politicians that make decisions on critical issues have not been able so far to make the decision about a dedicated aircraft.
So, the judge and a number of specialists have been asked to study the issue and make recommendations.
The committee will also prepare defences against all the expected attacks on a final positive decision, when it is made.
Enquiries have been conducted into the economic viability of purchasing an aircraft that would serve as Israel’s “Air Force One” in the past. Professional teams looked into amenities and recommended that such a plane be bought.
Every few months the issue pops up when Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has to go abroad on an official visit. Two weeks ago he planned to participate in the tribute to Nelson Mandela in South Africa, but cancelled the trip after his office reported such a flight on an Israeli passenger aircraft would have cost about $2 million.
In 2011 the Israeli Ministry of Finance released a request for information dealing with buying or leasing an aircraft that will be used to fly the country’s prime minister on official trips.
The RFI included three options – purchase, dedicated leasing or leasing according to need with a very short reaction time.
Specifications included in the RFI hampered the plan. The company that prepared the specifications wanted something with the standard of a smaller-scale “Air Force One”. That shelved the design.
So, this new committee has been formed to prepare the ground for a positive decision after the Ministry of Finance released calculations that show investment in a VIP aircraft will pay for itself within five years.
We will come back to this issue in the future – this if the new committee is for the purchase or against it. Hot potatoes have an internal heating mechanism.