Why is the New York apartment in which Israel's ambassadors to the UN live registered in the name of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu? "Globes" has discovered that the apartment located at 1010 5th Avenue in Manhattan in which Israel Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon lives, and in which previous ambassadors, including Benjamin Netanyahu, also lived, is registered in the prime minister's name, although it actually belongs to the state and was purchased on its behalf.
The affair gives rise to a number of questions: Why was the property bought at such a ow price? Why has a property owned by Israel been registered in the name of Benjamin Netanyahu since 1986, although 32 years have passed since then? The fact is all the more astonishing when it is recalled that Netanyahu was a private citizen with no official position in 1999-2002, but the apartment nevertheless remained registered in his name, rather than in the name of Israel.
Other questions also arise: what attempts, if any, were made to transfer the apartment to state ownership? Do Netanyahu's heirs have any rights whatsoever to the apartment? Is it reasonable that the apartment remained in Netanyahu's name when he served in no official position on behalf of the Israeli government? Why did the Ministry of Foreign Affairs avoid giving "Globes" an answer through Hatzlaha - The Consumers' Movement for the Promotion of a Fair Society and Economy for six months?
"Globes" has been engaged in intensive contact with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which originally declined to comment on the matter, for the past six months. Today, after legal steps were already being considered, "Globes" obtained official confirmation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the story about which a request was filed under the Freedom of Information Law with the assistance of Hatzlaha. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the details of the story.
The information obtained by "Globes" shows that the apartment has served as the official residence of the head of Israel's delegation to the UN since 1978 and was leased to Israel by its owner up until 1986. The state decided in the 1980s to purchase a number of apartments in New York to serve as the official residences of overseas state emissaries of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defense. Among other things, two apartments were purchased in buildings managed by tenant corporation methods - a common method of property ownership in New York.
The shareholders listed as members of the tenant corporation hold the apartments under a lease between them and the tenant corporation. The apartment in the building at 5th Avenue and 1010th St. leased by the state was purchased in 1986 for the purpose of its continued use as the official residence of the head of the Israeli delegation to the UN. In view of the tenant corporation form of incorporation, according to the usual practice, a shares certificate was registered for the apartment in the name of then Israel Ambassador to the UN Netanyahu and the apartment is still registered in his name. All the heads of the Israeli delegation to the UN since 1978 - Yehuda Blum, Netanyahu, Yohanan Bein, Yoram Aridor, Gad Yaacobi, Dore Gold, Yehuda Lancry, Dan Gillerman, Gabriela Shalev, Meron Reuben, Ron Prosor, and Danny Danon - resided in the apartment.
Incidentally, the second apartment purchased, which was designated as the official residence of the communications and culture consul on behalf of the consulate general in New York, was also registered for many years in the name of the emissary who served in the position at the time. The information communicated did not make it clear whether this apartment had been transferred to Israel's ownership.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated in response, "Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Benjamin Netanyahu has no connection or affinity of any kind to the ambassador to the UN's apartment in New York."
"In the 1980s, the state of Israel bought two official residential apartments for the ambassador to the UN and the consul general in New York. Netanyahu's name appears on the documents because he was serving as ambassador to the UN at the time, due to the ownership structure for the apartments. An intensive legal proceeding has been in progress since December 2016 with the holding company in New York to arrange the question of the registration so that it will be solely in the name of the state of Israel. It has been made clear legally to all the parties involved that serving diplomats have no rights to the apartment and that there is no doubt that the apartments belong solely to the state of Israel.
"The matter is being handled in coordination with the Ministry of Finance Accountant General and the Attorney General."
The Fifth Avenue home was bought for $99,000. The apartment is in a building managed as a tenant corporation, and "Globes" holds the share certificate confirming that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the registered owner of the property. Two years after it was purchased, the property was valued by the Ministery of Foreign Affairs at $4 million (a rise of 4000%), and subsequently it was valued at $7 million.
Research by "Globes" has put the value of the property today at about $15 million.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 27, 2018
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2018