A Stroll Near Netanyahu's Residence in Jerusalem? It’s Not So Easy Anymore

A ban has widened from cars to pedestrians; the latter for many hours a day.

Ya'acov Sa'ar

The Jerusalem street housing the prime minister’s official residence is now blocked to pedestrians for many hours a day, local people say.

In recent months, security around the house on Balfour Street in the Rehavia neighborhood has been increased, with the ban on vehicular traffic extended to pedestrians.

Balfour Street and nearby Smolenskin Street have been closed to cars for many years now, as part of the measures adopted after the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.

Barriers staffed by police and the prime minister’s security detail lie at the ends of each street. Only people who live on Balfour and Smolenskin may enter with their cars, after a security inspection.

About two years ago, the guards started blocking pedestrians when the prime minister’s convoy was leaving or returning.

About six months ago, the number of hours the street is blocked to pedestrians was greatly expanded, local residents say. The closures apparently depend on whether the prime minister is at home, leaving or returning.

Balfour Street is a key part of the route on foot from Rehavia to downtown Jerusalem. If the street is closed, pedestrians are in store for a much longer journey.

The street is also a haunt for tour guides, who point out Beit Aghion, the building that became the prime minister’s residence.

“Restricting the passage of pedestrians who are not residents of Balfour Street is done for security concerns and based on periodic security assessments,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement. “Even so, nonresidents of Balfour Street may also be allowed to pass through, in accordance with the security guards’ judgment.”