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Tamir opposes motion
Photo: Yotam Frum
Gov't okays NIS 650M for new PM's residence
Cabinet uses last session before elections to green light multi-million budget needed for new official residence including offices, conference rooms. Education minister slams move, says investment 'unworthy, especially in these financial times'

The government used it last session ahead of Tuesday's general elections to approve the NIS 650 million (approximately $161.9 million) budget necessary to build the new prime minister's residence in Jerusalem.

 

The elaborate "space design" complex, whose blueprints are in their final stages, will include the premier's official residence, offices and conference rooms.

 

The brief presenting the plan to the government said that the vast compound, set to be built across from the capital's Government Plaza, will serve Israel's need for a "national complex," and will include new venues for the Supreme Court and the Knesset.

 

According to the presentation, the new complex is meant to solve the difficulties the prime minister's staff encounters on ש near-daily basis and allow the Prime Minister's Office to operate in full in times of national crisis.


Simulation of new complex

 

In the long run, said the brief, the new compound will prove cost effective, saving the government money on renting various offices buildings in Jerusalem. It will also serve security needs, since the prime minister will no longer have to shuttle back and forth between the residence and his office, making life easier for the residents of those neighborhoods.

 

Though no date has been set for the groundbreaking, the brief suggests the NIS 650 million investment will be spread across 20 years.

 

'We should renovate classrooms instead'

Sunday's meeting saw four ministers oppose the motion: Education Minister Yuli Tamir, Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On, Environment Minister Gideon Ezra and Minister of the Development of the Negev and Galil Jacob Edery.

 

"These are millions I could have used to renovate all the classrooms in Israel," said Tamir. "This is an unworthy investment, especially in these financial times. I've been to many of the world's capitals and many official residences are separated from the government offices. That is no reason to allot these kinds of funds."

 

The government's priorities, she added, "should have put schools across Israel, which are in dire need of renovation, first. With all due respect to the fact that the prime minister welcomes world leaders in the residence, I have submitted a NIS 650 million plan to renovate schools and the current financial situation demands that the government pursue more social avenues (of expenditure).

 

"The government has to work for the citizens and not for itself. After all – and I say this with all due caution – the current prime minister will not be the one enjoying the new residence," she concluded.

 

Finance Minister Bar-On explained his objection to the project by saying that the funds needed for it were not included in the State Budget.

 

Bar-On also claimed that Israel's economical state demands the government allot funds to its own bureaus and not to auxiliary projects.

 

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