Son to Us All: How Much Is Yair Netanyahu Costing the Israeli Taxpayer?

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, with his son Yair, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, March 18, 2015.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, with his son Yair, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, March 18, 2015.Credit: Thomas Coex/AFP

How much will it cost Israel’s taxpayers when Yair Netanyahu visits Washington while his father, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is meeting with Donald Trump at the White House?

A family spokesperson Monday hastened to clarify that Yair, 25, is on a private vacation in the United States and stressed that it’s being paid for by the younger Netanyahu himself, who will get to the White House on his own steam.

But not everything in Yair Netanyahu’s life comes from his own pocket. Although he is no longer a minor he continues to live at the Prime Minister’s Residence, which is funded by the taxpayer.

“Plenty of people keep living with their parents after age 21, but there’s something wrong with an adult son continuing to live in a house paid for entirely by the public,” says an observer.

Israel has no regulations stating until what age a family member may live with parents in a house paid for by taxpayers, possibly because it did not need one until now.

Hypothetically, the child of a prime minister, president or ambassador, and his or her whole family, can live forever with his or her parents without breaking the law, point out sources close to the Prime Minister’s Office.

There is another implication of living with the parents. In August 2013, the Knesset committee responsible for the Shin Bet security service ruled that as long as the child of a prime minister spends most of his life (however old he is) at the prime minister’s home on Jerusalem’s Balfour Street, he needs to be secured, wherever he is, in Israel or elsewhere.

Thus Yair Netanyahu, not a minor, not a public servant and not a student, is guarded even on vacations around the world because he continues to live in his parents’ house.

Drivers have reportedly been requisitioned for Yair and his brother Avner to drive them at night and on weekends, which costs more money.

If Yair Netanyahu spent the main part of his life elsewhere than Balfour Street, the Shin Bet would check where he needs body guards, if at all.

TheMarker failed to obtain any information about how much Yair Netanyahu’s security in Israel and overseas costs the state.

The Finance Ministry directed a query to the Prime Minister’s Office, which sent a laconic answer: “The security, travel and accommodation arrangements relating to the security of the prime minister’s children are set by the security division at the ministry, depending entirely on security considerations and operational needs.”

The Netanyahu family provided a more pointed but no more informative response: “Your nettlesome questions, which were sent to the prime minister not coincidentally just before the flight to the first meeting with the president of the United States at the height of preparatory and cabinet meetings on the subject, constitute a continuation of the campaign of wickedness and incitement against the prime minister and his family, which is designed to hurt him and his work.”

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