Photo Credit: Google Maps
Naftali Bennett’s home at Tsipman Street 18, Ra’anana, circa 2015.

The state representative in the High Court of Justice on Monday admitted that the renovation work at Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s home in Ra’anana is being done without a permit. She spoke at a hearing on a petition by Bennett’s neighbors, who demanded an end to the renovation work on the house as well as to the demonstrations in front of it.

The day in court was not without its moments of levity, such as when Justice Ofer Grosskopf asked attorney Moriah Freeman representing the state, “You claimed two things: one, that you’ve almost finished the renovation work, and two, that you’ve begun the permit procedures. I didn’t get it.”

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Freeman didn’t miss a beat and explained: “These are the facts. Great efforts are being made to complete the procedure.”

At which point the judge wondered: “Wasn’t it supposed to be the other way around?” Then asked, “Who made all these decisions?”

“The prime minister’s office,” she answered.

But wait, there was more. A group of 43 of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s neighbors is suing him in the High Court, demanding an end to the street blocks, traffic limits, and the erection of fortifications around Bennett’s home. They argue that there’s a perfectly good official residence for the PM, on Balfour Street in Jerusalem, where he should move with his noisy detractors. After all, that’s where thousands of noisy demonstrators gathered to hate the former PM in large groups – why bother the good people of Ra’anana?

The state told the court that by rights there shouldn’t be any demonstrators outside the Ra’anana home because it isn’t the official PM’s residence. So why is Bennett still there and not on Balfour Street? Because there were serious security deficiencies in the Balfour residence, the Shin Bet decided to take advantage of the switch from Netanyahu to Bennett to take care of those deficiencies.

So, to summarize: the state believes demonstrators are not allowed to heckle the PM in Ra’anana, they should do it on Balfour Street in Jerusalem, but they can’t go there yet because the place is not ready. And what about the citizens’ right to demonstrate, their precious free speech and all that? It’s not clear.

But wait, the legal counsel to the Prime Minister’s Office, attorney Shlomit Barnea Fargo, ruled that the state can pay part of the expenses of the Ra’anana home as a “kind of official residence.” But the state rejected her ruling, insisting that nothing has changed regarding the status of the Balfour residence as the one and only home of Israel’s prime ministers and a symbol of the state’s government. The only thing is, Bennett can’t live there until it’s made safe again.

Oh, I could keep it up longer but I took pity on you, dear reader. Only, you know, this isn’t over yet.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.