In Israel, the New U.S. Ambassador’s Home Lacks a Certain View

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The Trump medication sold the luxurious property wherever envoys had lived for decades erstwhile it moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Ivanka Trump, President Donald J. Trump’s daughter, dedicated the U.S. Embassy successful  Jerusalem successful  2018. The compound houses a pied-à-terre.
Credit...Menahem Kahana/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Lara JakesMichael Crowley

Dec. 1, 2021, 6:53 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON — The authoritative residences of U.S. ambassadors overseas are astir ever premier pieces of existent estate: stately mansions successful desirable neighborhoods wherever American diplomats entertain dignitaries, clasp high-level meetings and occasionally big presidents.

In Israel, for much than fractional a century, the apical U.S. envoy lived conscionable extracurricular Tel Aviv successful a luxurious five-bedroom estate with sweeping views of the Mediterranean Sea. Israel gave the onshore to the United States successful the 1950s.

Yet President Donald J. Trump sold the spot erstwhile helium moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv in 2018. And that has near the newest American ambassador to Israel, Thomas R. Nides, to edifice to the rental marketplace for a spot to live.

Mr. Nides, who arrived successful Israel connected Monday, has said helium volition unrecorded successful Jerusalem to beryllium adjacent the embassy. More than fractional of the embassy’s unit members, however, inactive unrecorded successful Tel Aviv, hampered by Jerusalem’s skyrocketing lodging prices and information precautions required for American officials surviving there. That statement volition necessitate Mr. Nides to marque the hourlong thrust respective times each week to conscionable with his ain diplomats.

Officials said Mr. Nides was blessed to unrecorded successful Jerusalem. But much than a mislaid perk, the erstwhile ambassador’s residence successful the exclusive Tel Aviv suburb of Herzliya Pituach has go a awesome of the logistical headaches that American diplomats successful Israel person dealt with since the U.S. Embassy was moved.

Frustration implicit the merchantability of the residence surfaced anew among American diplomats this week arsenic Mr. Nides, a vocation banker who was the State Department’s deputy caput for absorption and resources during the Obama administration, took up his caller post. Two State Department officials described the concern connected the information of anonymity due to the fact that they were not authorized to sermon it publicly. A spokeswoman for the section declined to comment.

In precocious 2017, Mr. Trump reversed 7 decades of U.S. argumentation by formally recognizing Jerusalem arsenic Israel’s capital successful a melodramatic effect to demands for enduring American enactment for the Jewish state. At the time, helium besides ordered the embassy to relocate to Jerusalem.

That happened a fewer months later, when the embassy was moved into a gathering that had housed the U.S. Consulate successful Jerusalem and had served arsenic the superior diplomatic mode presumption for Palestinians successful the West Bank and Gaza. In 2019, the consulate was folded into the embassy, efficaciously downgrading American practice to the Palestinians.


Credit...U.S. Embassy Jerusalem

David Makovsky, a chap astatine the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said a elder Trump medication authoritative told him successful 2020 that the medication had sold the ambassador’s residence to assistance guarantee that a Democratic president would not effort to determination the embassy backmost to Tel Aviv.

“Burn the lifeboats,” Mr. Makovsky said the authoritative told him wryly.

“The aged residence was connected a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean, it had a large swimming excavation and a lush, large plot wherever you could acceptable 2,000 Israelis connected July 4,” said Mr. Makovsky, a erstwhile elder advisor to the peculiar envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations from 2013 to 2014. “Now you’re successful a concern wherever there’s nary earthy residence for the ambassador.”

In July 2020, the residence successful Herzliya was sold for astir $67 million to Sheldon Adelson, a Republican megadonor who had pushed Mr. Trump to determination the embassy to Jerusalem. Mr. Adelson died successful January, and his household has kept the location successful Herzliya for idiosyncratic use, according to a idiosyncratic acquainted with the concern who spoke connected the information of anonymity.

Mr. Nides’s contiguous predecessor, David M. Friedman, lived successful the authoritative residence for immoderate clip aft Mr. Adelson bought it, said the idiosyncratic acquainted with the situation, though it was not wide if helium paid rent. Mr. Friedman and his erstwhile aides did not respond to requests for comment, and the Adelson household declined to remark done a spokesman.

One authoritative said Mr. Friedman astatine times besides stayed successful an flat successful the embassy’s compound successful Jerusalem, wherever the diplomatic mission’s low-key chargé d’affaires, Michael Ratney, had lived this twelvemonth portion bridging the spread betwixt the 2 ambassadors.

But the pied-à-terre astatine the embassy provides small privateness and has nary of the grandeur for the ceremonial events that an American ambassador posted to the United States’ closest Middle East state is expected to host.

For months, State Department officials person been house-hunting successful Jerusalem for a caller ambassadorial residence, but the process of buying spot and outfitting it with information measures and different delicate cogwheel volition astir apt instrumentality time. Building a caller embassy could instrumentality up to a decade, officials said.

In the meantime, the section has rented a much humble flat successful Jerusalem for Mr. Nides. It is not wide however overmuch the lease volition outgo American taxpayers, and the State Department would not supply an estimation connected Wednesday.

However diplomatically discomfiting, determination is precedent for an ambassador without an authoritative residence.

In a twist, the caller Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Herzog, besides needed to find a caller spot to unrecorded erstwhile helium arrived successful Washington successful mid-November. The authoritative residence for the Israeli ambassador was torn down successful caller years aft falling into disrepair, and the past 2 ambassadors lived successful a rental location successful suburban Maryland astatine a reported outgo of astir $2 cardinal since 2013 earlier the lease expired this fall.

The Israeli authorities has said it volition rebuild its ambassador’s residence, which is successful Washington’s leafy Forest Hills vicinity and is simply a abbreviated region from its embassy, wrong a year. For now, officials said, Mr. Herzog is surviving successful a edifice until helium tin find his ain rental.

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