For the JC July 11 2021
After 12 years, Benjamin Netanyahu finally left the prime minister’s official residence in central Jerusalem — driving away at 2.30 am in the early hours of Sunday morning, apparently in order to avoid media attention.
The former prime minister, his wife Sara and their son Yair had stayed on in the residence, at taxpayers’ expense, for weeks after Naftali Bennett became prime minister on June 13. (Their other son, Avner, does not live with the family.)
The Bennett family live in Ra’anana and Mr Bennett has said that he does not intend to relocate to Jerusalem while his four children are settled in Ra’anana schools.
Instead, he said he would use the Balfour Street residence for official receptions and to hold meetings with important visiting politicians and philanthropists. But when Mr Netanyahu, despite no longer being prime minister, continued to host visitors in Balfour Street, Mr Bennett was forced to give him and his family a July 10 deadline to leave the premises. All services to the building, such as catering and laundry enjoyed by the Netanyahu family, were halted after Mr Bennett became prime minister.
The Netanyahus’ first destination on leaving Balfour Street was their Caesarea villa, on the coast. They own an apartment in central Jerusalem whose security standards are currently being modified for their eventual return. Mr Netanyahu also part-owns, with his brother Ido, their late father’s flat in Jerusalem.
Balfour Street is in the upmarket Jerusalem neighbourhood of Rehavia, not far from the one-time home of Golda Meir, who ran famed “kitchen cabinets” there during her premiership. Since 1974 the increasingly heavily guarded Balfour Street building has been the official residence for Israeli prime ministers. During Mr Netanyahu’s tenure the building became the focus for regular demonstrations against the prime minister and his government.