ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 148

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Neighbors fuming over Netanyahu’s temporary Jerusalem residence

With renovations still underway at official Balfour Street lodgings, PM has set up shop on busy Gaza Street in capital, causing road closures and delays

View of the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem on December 15, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
View of the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem on December 15, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Residents on and around Gaza Street in Jerusalem are complaining that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s temporary residence on the street has caused traffic snarls, noise and inconvenience.

The official Prime Minister’s Residence on Balfour Street has been undergoing long-overdue renovations and security updates since Netanyahu moved out in July 2021 after leaving office.

Former prime minister Naftali Bennett spent most of his time living at his home in Ra’anana — to the consternation of his neighbors there — while former prime minister Yair Lapid stayed in a small apartment within the prime ministerial compound.

Netanyahu owns a home in Caesarea, but shortly before the November 1 national election he made plans to relocate to the capital, taking up residence in an apartment that is not far from his former home on Balfour Street. Since becoming prime minister once again, residents have complained about the additional security, street closures and loud sirens at all hours of the day when Netanyahu arrives and departs from the home.

“It really screws up my life,” one resident told Ynet about the blockages and extra security. “There’s a feeling that nobody calls, nobody apologizes, nobody thinks” about the local residents.

Gaza Street is a major thoroughfare near downtown Jerusalem and tends to experience heavy traffic during most hours of the day. Gaza Street also intersects with Balfour Street, passing just meters from the longtime official residence.

One of three metal walls closing streets leading to then-prime minister Naftali Bennett’s Ra’anana home, January 13, 2022. (Carrie Keller-Lynn/Times of Israel)

Bennett came under fire for living at his family home in Ra’anana rather than moving to the official residence. The Balfour facility was being renovated under orders from the Shin Bet security service, but Bennett’s critics and neighbors slammed the cost and nuisance of the layers of security that were added in his hometown. Neighbors also had to deal with the noise of regular protests against the prime minister.

It is not clear when the renovations at the Prime Minister’s Residence — which Sara Netanyahu infamously claimed was in a state of disrepair — are slated to be completed.

In addition to a major security overhaul, the renovations are also reportedly set to include a significant electric, plumbing, and interior design overhaul, including plasterwork, paint and new kitchen cabinets.

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