Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu agreed Saturday that Netanyahu will vacate the prime minister's residence on July 10.
Netanyahu has lived with his family in the house on Balfour Street in the capital for the last 12 years, and Bennett allowed him to remain a little longer for what is termed an “adjustment period.” After leaving Balfour, Netanyahu is expected to remain living in Jerusalem, but until security arrangements are completed at his new residence, he will live in his home in Caesarea.
On July 11, the Balfour residence will pass over to Bennett. Until then, the two agreed, Netanyahu will refrain from holding any official meetings at the residence.
Bennett, who is entitled by law to live in the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem, is expected to move there from his home in Ra’anana in a few months. He is allowed to decide who can stay in the residence, and the law does not set any limit on how long the outgoing prime minister can remain. The last time Netanyahu finished his term as prime minister, in 1999, he handed over the residence to Ehud Barak only six weeks after leaving office. Ehud Olmert, Netanyahu’s predecessor 12 years ago, left the residence within four days of leaving office.
Since his term as prime minister ended on Sunday, Netanyahu has held a number of political events in the official residence: On Monday evening, he hosted a farewell event for his close staff from the Prime Minister’s Bureau; and on Tuesday he hosted Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, along with evangelical pastor John Hagee. No food was served at the events, so they did not require any additional spending, said sources familiar with the situation.
The legal adviser to the Prime Minister’s Office, Shlomit Barnea Farago, ruled that Netanyahu must pay for the living expenses for his family and guests in the residence, while the basic expenses – such as electricity, water and maintenance – will be paid for by the state. All other expenses paid for by taxpayers, as well as the maintenance for the Netanyahus’ family home in Caesarea, were stopped on Sunday evening when the new government was sworn in.