During coalition negotiations with Blue & White leader Benny Gantz, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded a guarantee that the state would provide him with “housing arrangements” during Gantz’ tenure as premier.
According to the agreement between Blue & White and Likud, Netanyahu will vacate the prime minister's chair in favor of Gantz in October 2021 for an 18-month period in which Israel will have to arrange and pay for Netanyahu's living expenses.
Netanyahu’s demand is an unusual one, given that he already owns three houses: The first is a splendid villa in the tony city of Caesarea estimated to be worth approximately NIS 20 million.
The second is a penthouse in Jerusalem valued at NIS 10 million and the third is another house in Jerusalem, which Netanyahu inherited along with his brother.
The Prime Minister's Office declined this week to explain why Netanyahu needs the state-funded housing when he steps down. A Likud spokesmen said: “No response.”
For years, the state has paid for Netanyahu's living expenses at his Caesarea home, even though he has lived in the prime minister's official residence in Jerusalem since 2009, which is also funded by the state.
According to data released between 2009 and 2015, it was revealed that state has spent millions catering to the whims of the Netanyahu family, prompting the Prime Minister's Office to refuse to release anymore information on the matter.
In 2010, the state allocated NIS 3.6 million to the Prime Minister's Office, which included the expenses of the houses in Caesarea and in Jerusalem.
In 2011, the budget given to the Prime Minister's Office grew to NIS 4.1 million, while the house in Caesarea received approximately NIS 184,000.
In 2012, the budget of the Prime Minister's Office again increased, this time to NIS 5.4 million, while the budget for house in Caesarea also increased to approximately NIS 318,000.
In 2013, the expenses of the Prime Minister's Office were NIS 4.2 million, including NIS 183,000 allocated to the house in Caesarea.
In 2014, budget for the Prime Minister's Office was NIS 3 million, while the budget for house in Caesarea was approximately NIS 284,000.
In 2015 the expenses for the Prime Minister's Office reached NIS 3.6 million, while the budget for house in Caesarea also grew to approximately NIS 298,000.
In 2019, Netanyahu renovated his home in Caesarea, a move that cost the state NIS 160,000.
The PM’s Office has also approved an investment of NIS 1.6 million in Netanyahu's house in Caesarea, due to what it said were “severe security flaws that demand immediate attention.”
In July 2015, the Movement for the Freedom of Information asked the Prime Minister's Office to provide the details of its expenses. The request was denied, prompting the Movement to petition Jerusalem District Court, but that was also rejected.
According to Judge Yoram Noam, there was "no public interest" in the breakdown of the expenses, arguing that their details “and cannot contribute to a relevant public debate that was more than mere gossip.”
In February 2019, the Movement appealed to the Supreme Court against the lower court's decision, arguing that the the district court ignored regulations that make clear exactly what expenses the state is allowed to provide an incumbent prime minister.
A decision on the appeal has not yet been made.