Benjamin Netanyahu says he and his family will move out of Israel's official prime minister's residence by July 10, nearly a month after he was ousted from office following a record 12-year reign. That's not nearly soon enough for critics who have long accused the Netanyahus of treating the office and its trappings as their own private property, and who see it as another way of undermining the legitimacy of the new government sworn in a week ago, per the AP. In a joint statement released late Saturday, Netanyahu and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said they had agreed the Netanyahus would move out by July 10 and that no more public events would be held at the residence until then. Bennett will begin using the residence the next day. Netanyahu, who is now opposition leader, has a private home in the seaside city of Caesarea.
Bennett will reportedly continue to reside at his home in a Tel Aviv suburb, using the official residence during trips to Jerusalem and for hosting foreign dignitaries. The relatively modest official residence on Balfour Street in central Jerusalem has been the epicenter of weekly protests against Netanyahu over the past year, reflecting the bitter polarization over his rule and his ongoing trial on serious corruption charges. On Saturday night, the protesters showed up with a moving truck with “Crime Minister” written on the side of it. “They are ordering food, people are coming in to visit them, nobody knows when they are going to leave,” said one of the organizers. “We decided to come with our truck, and we are ready to help him anytime.” Some have compared Netanyahu to former US President Donald Trump, who contested his election defeat with false claims of voter fraud—though he vacated the White House on schedule. Israel, however, has no established protocol for the handover of the residence.
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