Netanyahu continues to live in PM residence despite ouster

Anti-Netanyahu group threaten High Court petition if Likud leader continues to live in prime minister's residence
2 min read
16 June, 2021
A photograph has shown Netanyahu hosting former US ambassador Nikki Haley at the official prime minister's residence.
Analysts have not ruled out that Netanyahu will undermine the diverse and fragile coalition government formed to oust him from the opposition bench [Los Angeles Times via Getty]

An Israeli group involved in protests against former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened to petition the county's high court if the Likud leader does not leave vacate the premier's residence by 27 June, according to Israeli media.

It comes after a photograph of Netanyahu hosting former US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley at the official Jerusalem residence surfaced online, prompting a slew of criticism over how the opposition leader is able to host foreign officials at a residence no longer his own.

Anti-Netanyahu group Crime Minister wrote to Shlomit Barnea, legal adviser to the Israeli Prime Minister's office, demanding a date to be set for Netanyahu to leave the Balfour residence, Time of Israel have reported.

"We will not allow a [criminal] defendant who lost the election to fortify himself in the residence, turning it into a facility for his private affairs from which he fights the elected government," the group wrote in their letter.

"It is time, after 12 years of alienation and disconnect, for the Netanyahu family to understand that the Prime Minister’s Residence is a public resource and kindly vacate the premises within a short period of time, as is the practice in a proper democracy."

Analysts have not ruled out that Netanyahu will undermine the diverse and fragile coalition government formed to oust him from the opposition bench. On top of a lasting political legacy, he commands a strong base of right-wing loyalists, even while facing a string of corruption charges.

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While Israeli law does not stipulate a date by which an outgoing premier must vacate the residence, Israel's Channel 12 reported on Monday that Netanyahu and his family are expected to remain at Balfour for up to a month.

The last time Netanyahu was voted out, in 1999, it took him six weeks to leave the premises.

Media reports emerging ahead of the confirmation of Israel's new government by the Knesset on Sunday also alleged that Barnea proposed a non-binding legal opinion recommending that the government stop funding expenses at the residence and fire all chefs and cleaners immediately.

She also suggested the state ends its funding for Netanyahu’s private residence in the north-central Israeli town of Caesara.