Report: Netanyahu to ask state to fund family’s expenses at 2 private homes

With Balfour residence under renovation, PM expected to ask Knesset Finance Committee to bankroll running costs for apartment in Jerusalem as well as family home in Caesarea

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's private residence in Caesarea. (Video screenshot)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's private residence in Caesarea. (Video screenshot)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will request that the state cover housing expenses for him and his family at their private residences in Jerusalem and Caesarea, according to a Saturday report.

Channel 12 reported on Saturday the premier was expected to bring up the issue with the Knesset Finance Committee this week and that the request to fund both private residences was likely to be approved.

The request pertains to Netanyahu’s home in Jerusalem’s Gaza Street and the family’s private home in the affluent coastal town of Caesarea.

It cites the fact that the premier’s official residence in the capital is still undergoing renovations.

According to the report, he will ask the committee to recognize the family’s private residence on Gaza Street as the premier’s official residence while renovations and security updates continue, in a process that is expected to take months or more.

The request for state funding will cover ongoing daily costs and hospitality expenses at both residences for Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, according to the report.

The Gaza street residence is located in a residential neighborhood of central Jerusalem and is not adjacent to the Prime Minister’s Office, which is in the government quarter near the city’s Western entrance.

The report cited unnamed Knesset officials who expressed their “discomfort” at approving state funds to finance the prime minister’s two residences, particularly given the presence of more pressing matters currently on the legislative agenda.

View of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence on Azza street in Jerusalem, January 18, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The coalition is preparing to advance the first elements of its judicial overhaul package through the first of three necessary votes on Monday after pushing them through a parliamentary committee last week.

In response to the Channel 12 report, the Prime Minister’s Office lashed out at the previous prime ministers, Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid, and said that they should have made sure the Balfour Street residence’s renovation process was on track instead of “investing NIS 50 million to renovate Bennett’s private home in Ra’anana.”

Due to the ongoing work at the official residence, Bennett spent most of his time in office living at his Ra’anana home — to the consternation of his neighbors there — while former prime minister Yair Lapid stayed in a small apartment within the prime ministerial compound.

The Balfour residence has been undergoing long-overdue renovations and security updates since Netanyahu moved out in July 2021 after leaving office.

Earlier this month, the Haaretz daily reported that the Prime Minister’s Office estimated the ongoing renovations at the Balfour residence will cost between NIS 80 and 100 million ($25-30 million) and may take years more to complete. The publication also said Netanyahu’s office was considering canceling the renovations and instead building a new combined office and home in Jerusalem.

Last month, the Kan public broadcaster reported that the PMO was beginning to revive the plan, known colloquially as the “Israeli White House.”

If fulfilled, the project is expected to cost hundreds of millions of shekels, and would take some seven years to be completed, Haaretz said.

Plans for a single compound that will house the Israeli prime minister’s dwelling and offices have intermittently been considered for long years, but have been frozen time and again for various reasons.

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