Lapid gets extra security, plans to live in PM’s residence without family — report

Incoming premier said intending to keep several of Bennett’s top aides in place during transition ahead of elections

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, on April 3, 2022. (Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, on April 3, 2022. (Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90)

The Shin Bet will soon begin increasing security around Foreign Minister Yair Lapid as he gears up to become interim prime minister, Israeli television reported Tuesday.

Lapid is slated to take over as interim premier as part of his power-sharing deal with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, after the two announced Monday that they would move to dissolve their struggling ruling coalition and hold snap elections, the fifth in under three years.

The arrangement is not a done deal, however, as lawmakers must still approve the Knesset’s dispersal in the next few days and another MK could theoretically form an alternative government in the current parliament.

According to Channel 12 news, Lapid is planning to move to the Prime Minister’s Residence on Jerusalem’s Balfour Street and stay there most nights when he becomes premier, while his family will remain in Tel Aviv.

The move could be a short-lived one. Lapid will only be prime minister until the next government is formed following elections, which are likely to be called for late October, unless he is able to again cobble together a coalition. Polls Tuesday showed Likud as the top vote-getter, but predicted party leader Benjamin Netanyahu would struggle to find partners for a government.

Bennett and his family did not move to the Prime Minister’s Residence during his year in power, instead remaining at their home in Ra’anana to the consternation of neighbors.

He initially defended the decision not to move as being for the benefit of his children who were able to continue attending school in Ra’anana, but continued to justify the move as being necessary in order to allow the Shin Bet security service to make renovations to the Jerusalem residence. In April, the Shin Bet confirmed that it was necessary to make long-needed improvements to the residence’s security systems.

The residence has been uninhabited since former premier Benjamin Netanyahu moved out in July after living there for 12 years.

A group of Israelis read the plaque on the wall of Beit Aghion, the official Prime Minister’s Residence, Jerusalem, December 24, 2021. (David Horovitz/Times of Israel)

Separately, Hebrew media reports said Tuesday that Lapid intends to have National Security Council chairman Eyal Hulata, Cabinet Secretary Shalom Shlomo and Military Secretary Avi Gil stay on in their posts. All three were appointed by Bennett. Earlier in the day, Prime Minister’s Office Director Yair Pines reportedly said he would step down.

However, Lapid plans to bring his diplomatic adviser Yair Zivan with him to the Prime Minister’s Office, along with spokesman Roy Konkol, according to the reports.

Lapid’s elevation to the premiership is expected to occur next week after the Knesset formally dissolves, a process set to begin on Wednesday. If the parliament disbands as planned, he will hold the post through elections in the fall and until the formation of Israel’s next coalition government.

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