With the State Comptroller and Ombudsman's report on the expenses of the Prime Minister's Residence due to be published Tuesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife Sarah hosted interior designer and media celebrity Moshe Glamin on a tour of their official home on Balfour Street in Jerusalem.
The tour revealed a somewhat dilapidated house, with some features that have apparently not been renovated since the 1950s, when the house – built in the 1930s for a Greek-Jewish financier – was purchased by the Israeli government.
The video produced by Glamin begins with a “selfie” with Prime Minister Netanyahu in the foyer. Sarah then joins the designer, and points out a carpet that was bought, she said, for President Barack Obama's visit. The carpet that preceded this one, she explained, had very large holes in it, and once the Prime Minister asked a security man to stand on top of one of the holes in order to hide it, during an official visit by a foreign leader.
After viewing Sarah's work room, in which heads of state sometimes confer before press conferences, the pair proceed through another room to the living room, where mismatched sofas surround a low glass table. The sofas, explains Sarah, were only approved for the visit by the French President, which followed Obama's. The sofas that were in place during Obama's visit had holes in them.
The dining room has broken glass lampshades on a track light fixture, and Netanyahu explains that in order to fix or replace any item, bureaucratic hurdles must be surmounted. From there they proceed to the Prime Minister's work room, in which Glamin is shocked to find mold on the curtains and a moisture problem in a corner, which causes the paint to peel.
More dampness and peeling walls can be seen in the patio, and next to it is a yard with no grass. Glamin jokingly suggests that every guest who visits the house be asked to bring a square meter of grass, to gradually fill up the yard.
Glamin is positively petrified, however, when he enters the kitchen. “This doesn't look real,” he explains. “This looks like the kitchen of a boarding school in Romania, in 1954.” He winds up the tour by confessing that he is disappointed by how the home looks – but has enjoyed Sarah's company.
The Prime Minister's Office insisted that the tour was held at Glamin's initiative. Glamin says that he did not allow the Netanyahus to be involved in the editing of the video.
There is little doubt, however, that the video tour was initiated in order to balance out any criticism that will appear in the Comptroller's report. The media has hounded Sarah Netanyahu for years with claims that she spends too much on pistachio ice cream, among other things, and that she is mean and petty toward the residence's staff.
The Netanyahus have an additional, private home of their own in Caesarea.