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Bennett, family not planning to move to PM’s official residence — report

Yamina chief’s wife and 4 young children work or study in central city of Ra’anana; unlike Netanyahu, Bennett would only use residence for official meetings and on weekends

View of the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem on June 23, 2009. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
View of the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem on June 23, 2009. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Prime minister-designate Naftali Bennett does not plan to move with his family to the premier’s official residence on Balfour Street in Jerusalem if he is indeed sworn in later this month, a television report said Thursday,

Bennett has four children — aged 16, 14, 12 and 9 — who all study in different schools near their current residence in the central city of Ra’anana. His wife, Gilat Bennett, also works in the city, Channel 12 news reported.

According to the report, Bennett plans for his family to stay in Ra’anana during the week while he uses the official residence for meetings, and on weekends they may join him in Jerusalem.

During his 12 consecutive years in office, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has done the opposite. He lives in the official residence during the week with his wife and two children, while spending weekends in the family’s private Caesarea villa.

Naftali Bennett, head of Yamina party, and his wife Gilat Bennett cast their ballots during the Israeli legislative elections, at a polling station in Raanana on March 23, 2021. (Gili Yaari / Flash90)

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.

Regardless of where Bennett ultimately decides to live, the Shin Bet security service would have to make adjustments to provide adequate security at both homes, the network reported.

On Thursday morning, the agency said its unit that protects the top officials of the state, Unit 730, had placed a security detail around Bennett, the coalition-to-be’s first prime minister. Security had already been increased last month in response to threats against his life, the party said at the time.

Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid on Wednesday informed President Reuven Rivlin he was able to form a government in which he and Yamina chief Bennett will switch off as prime minister, positioning themselves to replace Israel’s longest-serving leader.

A photo montage shows the leaders of parties in the prospective “change government” that Yesh Atid chief Yair Lapid announced he can form on June 2, 2021. (Flash90)

If the emerging government is sworn in, Israel will have a new prime minister for the first time since 2009. Along with the over 12 consecutive years he has served as premier since then, Netanyahu was also prime minister for three years in the late 1990s.

Questions remained, though, over whether the coalition can hold together, as the final coalition agreements have yet to be formally released and negotiations are expected to continue until the swearing-in, which is likely to take place in the next 10 days.

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