Far from war, Yair Netanyahu spied loafing in luxe south Florida digs

UK’s Daily Mail reports prime minister’s son has been living at upscale Hallandale Beach complex since mid-January, unclear who is footing reported $5,000 a month in rent

Left: Yair Netanyahu arrives for a court hearing in Tel Aviv,  November 29, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90); Right: The Hallandale Beach luxury apartment tower (Felix Mizioznikov/Shutterstock.com)
Left: Yair Netanyahu arrives for a court hearing in Tel Aviv, November 29, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90); Right: The Hallandale Beach luxury apartment tower (Felix Mizioznikov/Shutterstock.com)

While Israel fights a war in Gaza and fends off attacks in the north, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair is apparently spending his days in a luxury high-rise near Miami, according to a report Wednesday.

In photos and video published by DailyMail.com, Netanyahu can be seen on the balcony of a posh Hallandale Beach condo, sipping tea in his boxers, on the phone, and chilling with friends, one of whom can be seen wearing a virtual reality headset.

Apartments in the building, which sits next to a golf course and is about a 15-minute walk from the beach, cost between $4,200 and $17,000 a month. According to the Daily Mail, the unit occupied by Netanyahu costs $5,000 per month, though it is not clear who is footing the bill.

The complex has tennis courts, a spa, a game lounge, a private cinema, a wine cellar, and a cigar room.

The report was the latest to describe the Netanyahus as indulgent jetsetters living high on the hog while nickel-and-diming taxpayers for everything from pool repairs to takeout ice cream. The cigar-chomping prime minister is on trial for, among other things, receiving expensive gifts of champagne and jewelry from rich friends for his wife Sara.

Yair in particular has been accused of living the life of a spoiled dauphin who spends most of his time on social media attacking his father’s critics, drawing both flak and legal trouble.

According to the report, Netanyahu cannot work in the US as he is on a tourist visa.

The younger Netanyahu is known for his far-right views and combative social media presence, which has landed him in court on a number of occasions. His public prominence has risen amid widespread reports that he has been influencing his father’s policies.

He has been sued multiple times and ordered to pay out hundreds of thousands of shekels in compensation.

Shortly after the October 7 massacre, Netanyahu shared posts blaming security services for failures that led to the attack, including one claiming that IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi knew of the coming assault but didn’t tell the prime minister as part of a military coup.

Netanyahu spent most of 2023 in the US and before October 7 was hoping to gain a Green Card, according to Hebrew media reports. After the attack, he stayed in the US but, amid criticism, eventually flew back to volunteer with the United Hatzala first responder organization, reportedly manning telephones during a fundraiser at the end of November.

By mid-January he was back in the US, apparently staying at the Miami condo, according to the Daily Mail.

IDF troops operate in the Gaza Strip, in a handout image published February 15, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

A spokesperson for the Netanyahu family told the Mail, “It’s clear this is an agenda-driven political hit piece aimed at tarnishing Israel’s rightwing prime minister during wartime by attacking his family.”

The spokesperson touted Yair Netanyahu’s volunteer work and fundraising efforts, as well as his public advocacy efforts.

“Yair spends his life defending Israel in the international arena, including in interviews, speeches, and social media,” the spokesperson said.

Netanyahu left Israel in March 2023 amid reports he was banned by his father from posting on social media for inflaming tensions in Israel, exacerbating a diplomatic rift with the United States.

He first visited Puerto Rico and then reached the US, basing himself in Florida.

In September, US immigration lawyer Michael Wildes posted to X that Netanyahu had become a client of his firm, which would represent the prime minister’s son on his “international matters.”

Wildes declined media inquiries for further information. At the time, the Haaretz daily cited an unnamed source quoting Yair Netanyahu as saying he wants to move to the US and legally work there but was concerned the plan may be torpedoed because the Biden administration is “not the best of friends.”

Netanyahu reportedly made the remarks at a June wedding in London of a family that donates to his father. He denied the report.

In June, at a court hearing to obtain a restraining order against an anti-government protester, Netanyahu’s legal representative said that his client “does not intend to return to the country in the near future,” Hebrew media reported.

In December, Haaretz reported that providing security for Netanyahu’s several months stay in south Florida had drained over a million shekels ($275,000) from state coffers.

According to the report, there are two Shin Bet security guards with Netanyahu whenever he leaves his home. The costs incurred so far cover accommodation and food for the guards, a car and driver, and paying for an additional local security guard.

The cited amount does not include the additional cost of the Shin Bet staff salaries or paying to fly them to and from Israel, the unsourced report said. The guards are switched every two to three weeks.

Yair Netanyahu at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court, June 5, 2018. (Flash90)

Funding was transferred from the Prime Minister’s Office to the Foreign Ministry and from there to the Israeli consulate in Miami, which has forked out for most of the expenses, the report said.

A source familiar with the arrangements said that security for Yair Netanyahu costs more when he is abroad. “Miami is an expensive destination,” they told Haaretz.

The Ministerial Committee for Shin Bet Affairs decided in March last year to transfer security responsibility for Netanyahu family members from the Prime Minister’s Office protection service to the Shin Bet, even though the latter believed there was no need and that the PMO team was able to provide adequate security, Haaretz reported.

Also in December, Haaretz reported that in January last year, before Yair Netanyahu had left the country, then Foreign Minister Eli Cohen instructed that he be given a diplomatic passport. According to regulations, the children of a prime minister are only entitled to a diplomatic passport while they are still minors.

(From left to right) Avner, Sara, Benjamin and Yair Netanyahu tour the Golan Heights, on April 23, 2019. (PMO)

In a letter to staff, Foreign Ministry Director General Ronen Levi reportedly explained that Netanyahu’s security guards have diplomatic passports and it was, therefore, necessary to give their ward similar papers to prevent them being separated at border crossings when he travels abroad.

At the time, the Prime Minister’s Office said that security procedures are laid down according to need and the protected persons have no influence on decisions regarding those arrangements.

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