Bennett’s Office Refuses to Disclose Private Home Renovation Costs

The Shin Bet, according to Bennett's office, bars disclosure of the costs at his Ra'anana home, which the prime minister is using instead of the official Jerusalem residence upon request by the security agency

Chen Maanit
Chen Maanit
The Bennett's residence, last month.
The Bennett's residence, last month. Credit: Hadas Parush
Chen Maanit
Chen Maanit

The Prime Minister's Office has denied requests to disclose the costs of fortifying Prime Minister Bennett's home in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ra’anana, stating the Shin Bet has barred the release of the information for security reasons.

Haaretz recently requested the information and was told by Bennett's office that the Shin Bet would not permit it to do so. When the Finance Ministry was approached for the costs, it also refused and suggested contacting the Prime Minister's Office, while the Shin Bet declined to comment saying that it doesn’t publish the cost of security arrangements.

Since taking office in June last year, Bennett has not used the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem under Shin Bet orders, and worked from his private Ra’anana home, where his family chose to remain. The Shin Bet has undertaken extensive work on infrastructure at the house, including work related to security and communications there.

After Benjamin Netanyahu’s electoral defeat and the formation of the government with Bennett at the helm, Netanyahu and his family left the official residence on Balfour Street in Jerusalem and renovation work began there.

The Shin Bet asked that Bennett not move into the official residence until the work was completed, which the Shin Bet said includes security-related improvements that cannot be made while the prime minister is living there.

This month the High Court of Justice was critical of the way in which the construction work was being carried out at Bennett’s Ra’anana home, saying that it was “difficult to justify the state’s performing construction work without a permit at the home.” The justices also criticized delays in completing the work at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, calling the situation “not proper and not in order.”

“With regard to everything related to the state’s conduct in connection with the required work at the prime minister’s residence in Ra’anana and the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, there is the disturbing impression that things are being done without a guiding hand and that things are being dragged out in an unclear manner,” Justice Yosef Elron wrote for the court in response to petitions filed by the Ra’anana Municipality and Bennett’s neighbors. The petitions challenged a police plan on managing public protests near the Bennett home.

The court panel, consisting of Elron and Justices Noam Sohlberg and Ofer Grosskopf, granted the petitions in part and noted that at the hearings on them, it had become clear that the work at Bennett’s house was being performed without the required prior planning. The court refrained from ruling on whether or not the Ra’anana house had become the official Prime Minister’s Residence.

With regard to the work at the residence in Jerusalem, they noted that government representatives had claimed that it “required security and maintenance-related renovations that would last at least six months.” The court added, however, that “as a practical matter, so far no progress has begun on this matter, due to various and sundry excuses.” Until that is dealt with, the prime minister couldn’t live in the Jerusalem residence even if he wished to, the court stated, “a situation that is not proper and not in order.”



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