Last week "Globes" exclusively revealed that US billionaire Sheldon Adelson is buying the US Ambassador's residence in Herzliya for NIS 300 million, making it the highest price ever paid for a house in Israel. But "Globes" can now reveal that although the US Embassy and US Ambassador David Friedman's office moved to Jerusalem in May 2018, Friedman and his family continue to live in Herzliya.
Initial reports had suggested that Friedman was living in the Jerusalem region. But when Channel 13 comedian Guy Hochman was recently filming a clip on the nearby Herzliya seafront cliffs, he was approached by armed guards who asked him to stop filming with the ambassador's residence in the background, because the ambassador's family could be seen around the swimming pool.
So it turned out that Ambassador Friedman had not moved to Jerusalem. Friedman's own apartment in Jerusalem does not meet the necessary security requirements and the former US Consulate in Agron Street must undergo major renovations before it will be fit for tenants. In any event, some of Friedman's children still attend the American High School in Even Yehuda and traveling there each day from Jerusalem would not be feasible.
Even though Friedman still needs to live in Herzliya, the sale of the house on Galei Tachelet Street to Adelson is being rushed through by the US Administration before the November presidential elections. Adelson has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to the US Republican party and President Donald Trump and is a major supporter of Israel.
The rush to sell the house is political. The White House wants to demonstrate that moving the Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is irreversible, including the move of the Friedman family. The Republican party wants to show good intentions to its evangelist support base, while if President Trump loses the election it would make it harder to turn the clock back.
So when Adelson completes the purchase of the Herzliya property, sources say that the contract will include a clause allowing the Friedman family to rent the house from him and continue living there.
The US Embassy in Israel spokesperson said, "Following the announcement of the move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, the Department undertook a review of both existing and available diplomatic property in Israel to determine the best alignment to support the US Mission."
The spokesperson added, "In response to that review, planning for the sale of the former US Ambassador's residence in Tel Aviv began in 2019 with marketing of the property beginning in January of 2020."
"The Department of State has recently selected the buyer for the sale of the former Chief of Mission Residence in Herzliya Israel. The buyer was selected solely on the basis of having submitted the highest and best offer. The selected buyer and the unsuccessful bidders have been notified. The Embassy will vacate the Chief of Mission Residence in spring of 2021."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on September 7, 2020 © Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2020