The ministerial committee on Israel Security Agency affairs will meet March 3 to vote on a proposal to eliminate personal security details for all but seven key Israeli figures.
The motion is based on a recommendation made earlier this month by the National Security Council and the Counterterrorism Bureau. The proposal was originally scheduled to be put to a vote on Sunday, but due to the reservations of some defense officials, the vote was delayed. Currently every cabinet minister is protected by a pair of personal bodyguards.
The proposed new arrangement, which addresses security both during travel and at the ministers' homes, will not apply to seven key individuals who are seen as "national symbols," among them the president, prime minister, and chief justice of the Supreme Court. Security surrounding ministers' homes will continue unchanged.
Ever since the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, several modifications have been made to the personal protection of important government officials, culminating in the decision to assign bodyguards to every minister over the last decade. Currently, a private company provides the security detail, under the supervision of the Israel Security Agency's personal security unit.
In the past, several ministers, including Limor Livnat, Dan Meridor and Michael Eitan, have asked to be relieved of their security detail, but to no avail. Since then attitudes to the issue have changed and it is now the Prime Minister's Office that is behind the initiative to eliminate the security requirement.
In recent years, a public committee was asked to conduct an investigation into the matter. Public outrage was directed at the high cost of the service and the detrimental image of Israel generated by the presence of bodyguards in the vicinity of ministers at all times. The investigation's preliminary conclusions have been turned over to official bodies, but they preferred not to comment on the topic before the official conclusions are released.
If the initiative is approved, some 400 bodyguards employed by the state through the Mikud security company will be out of work.
The Prime Minister's Office issued a statement on the issue, saying, "The Counterterrorism Bureau is reassessing the current personal protection protocols. The work is not yet done, and once it is, it will turned over to relevant officials for approval."