Despite ongoing criticism, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu won’t be vacating the official prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem for at least several more weeks, sources involved in the matter said on Friday.
At the official residence, the Netanyahus are packing up and preparing to move to their private Caesarea residence, but this may take several weeks, the sources said.
They said that the family will only spend a number of months in Caesarea, while an apartment they own on the capital’s Azza Street is brought up to security standards. Once ready, the Netanyahus will move in there.
Netanyahu is also a part-owner of his late father’s home on Haportzim St. in the city, but apparently will not be moving into it with his family.
For the time being, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who was sworn in on Sunday, apparently does not plan to move with his family from his Ra’anana home to the official residence.
A group that led anti-Netanyahu protests over the past year sent a letter to the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday threatening to petition the High Court of Justice if Netanyahu does not vacate the residence by June 27.
The letter was filed a day after former US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley posted a picture with Netanyahu at the official residence, where he had hosted her along with Christians United For Israel founder John Hagee on Monday. The photo led to uproar, with critics demanding to know why the opposition chairman was continuing to use the residence for hosting foreign dignitaries.
On Sunday, the day of the new government’s swearing-in, a delivery of soft drinks, worth some 6,000 shekels ($ 1,800) was made to the residence, the Ynet news site reported Friday. While the Prime Minister’s Office said that the order was made a number of weeks earlier, sources in the PMO were quoted as saying it was only made on the day of the delivery.
A day earlier, PMO legal adviser Shlomit Barnea had ruled that the state should stop paying for the residency’s expenses as long as the Netanyahus remained at the residence.
During his 12 consecutive years in office, Netanyahu lived in the official Jerusalem residence during the week with his wife and two children, while spending weekends in the family’s private Caesarea villa.
The residence of Israel’s prime minister, officially named Beit Aghion, is located on the corner of Smolenskin and Balfour Street in the upscale Rehavia neighborhood of central Jerusalem.