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For Israel’s Netanyahu, the official residence became a fortress


The Israelis are now debating what role the Balfour protests might have played in the ousting of Netanyahu, who served 12 consecutive years in office for a total of 15 years, and in overcoming the political impasse that Israelis voted four times in two years .

The current opposition leader Netanyahu skipped the traditional handover ceremony and only met with Mr. Bennett for half an hour on Monday. He has vowed to overthrow Mr Bennett’s government, which he has termed “left.”

The Prime Minister’s office could not immediately say when the Netanyahu would be leaving Balfour. A family member, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private matters, said the issue had not been raised but noted that some former prime ministers had a grace period of up to two months before vacating the residence had received.

Named after Arthur Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary, whose declaration laid the diplomatic foundations for a Jewish homeland in Palestine more than a century ago, Balfour Street has become the epitome of what critics have seen as the increasingly polarizing, anti-democratic and monarchical impulses of Mr. Netanyahu, his wife Sara and their older son Yair. Many saw them as royal delusions. In the fight against allegations of corruption, Mr. Netanyahu railed against the police, mainstream news media and the judiciary, accusing them of conspiracy to overthrow him.

The term “Balfour” also referred to a political concept identified by Ben Caspit, an Israeli commentator and author of two Netanyahu biographies. In Prime Minister’s circles, Caspit said, people began to talk about which policies or decisions would or would not get the approval of the “House”, which Ms. Netanyahu initially meant and in recent years has also been called Yair Netanyahu.

“It was a three-person board,” said Caspit in an interview, “and Bibi did not have a majority.”

The Netanyahu Family Affiliate said that while Ms. Netanyahu and Yair Netanyahu expressed their views, he never saw any extraordinary interference in decision-making to justify the reputation they have gained.

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