Prime Minister Naftali Bennett doesn't plan to move to the official Jerusalem residence for at least another six months, the state told the High Court of Justice, in response to a petition by the premier's neighbors in Ra'anana regarding demonstrations held near their homes.
The Jerusalem residence is expected to undergo major renovations lasting at least six months, the state said.
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Bennett does not intend on moving to the official residence on Balfour Street and the renovations will be done “for security and maintenance reasons,” the state said in its response, noting that Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s family frequently complained about its dilapidated condition.
In response to numerous demonstrations held near Bennett’s private home in Ra’anana, his neighbors petitioned the High Court of Justice asking that the police clamp down on the demonstrations, or in the alternative, that they be allowed to take place near the official residence only.
On the heels of the protests, the police issued guidelines and restrictions aimed at minimizing disruption to the neighbors' way of life, and have limited the frequency of protests to a certain number of times per week and to certain hours only.
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In its response to the suit, the state seeks to keep in place the police framework whereby protests are only allowed a few hundred meters from Bennett’s home, saying this is “reasonable, proportionate and appropriately balances freedom of expression and the right to protest with the need to preserve public order.”
The filings reveal that at the largest of the demonstrations held near Bennett’s house on Tsifman Street in Ra’anana about 300 people were in attendance.
“According to the police’s impression, so far the demonstrations have been conducted according to the framework and the demonstrators are following the police’s instructions. Usually, between 50 to 90 people participate in the protests... when the police are of the opinion that the noise is unreasonable, they ask the protesters to lower the volume of the amplification and the impression of the police officials on the ground is that the protesters so far have generally agreed to this request,” said the government in its response.
In response to the petitioners’ claims that police horse manure was not collected at the end of the demonstrations, creating an additional nuisance, the government admitted to such, characterizing it as “an accident and certainly not a result of the policy," and added that the matter is being handled by the relevant authorities.