Sold: U.S. ambassador’s luxury residence in Israel

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Jack Guez AFP Getty Images

The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv on Dec. 6, 2017. The embassy was moved to Jerusalem by the administration of President Trump in May 2018.

JERUSALEM — The luxury residence used to house American ambassadors to Israel since the 1960s has been sold, the U.S. Embassy announced Tuesday.

The embassy did not divulge how much the property was sold for, describing the mystery buyer merely as having submitted “the highest and best offer.”

The announcement follows recent reports by Israeli media outlet Globes that Las Vegas casino magnate and GOP superdonor Sheldon Adelson was behind the sale of the villa, which boasts a coveted sea view and is on the country’s most expensive street in the exclusive neighborhood of Herzliya Pituach north of Tel Aviv.

The embassy’s statement said the residence would be formally vacated in the spring of 2021 “to allow for an orderly transition period to remove and safeguard government property.”

[For $ 87 million, this U.S. ambassador’s residence in Israel could be yours]

It is unclear whether U.S. Ambassador David Friedman will live in the house until then. A statement from the embassy in June said he had established an official residence in Jerusalem ever since President Trump moved the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May 2018, but Israeli media reports this week said he would continue to rent the Herzliya home.

The house was put up for sale earlier this year, with an embassy spokesperson saying in the June statement that “following the decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem it made sense to sell the residence in Herzliya.”

“Much of the embassy’s operations have shifted to Jerusalem and the ambassador has established an official residence there.”

In December 2017, Trump upended decades of U.S. foreign policy by formally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ordering the relocation of the U.S. mission to that city. The Jerusalem embassy was officially opened in May 2018 with a glitzy ceremony attended by Trump’s daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law, Middle East envoy Jared Kushner, and other dignitaries.

[Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in policy shift that could spark unrest]

The embassy’s statement on Tuesday said that following the embassy move, which was widely criticized by the Palestinian leadership, there was a review of existing and available U.S. diplomatic property in Israel “to determine the best alignment to support the U.S. Mission.”

“There are no plans or agreements to continue leasing or renting the property for the use of Ambassador Friedman or for other government use once possession is delivered to the purchaser in the Spring of 2021.”

Globes reported last week that the property was worth an estimated $ 87 million, which would make it among the most expensive homes to be sold in Israel.

The outlet also speculated that the fast sale could be attributable to a desire by the Trump administration to complete the deal ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November, emphasizing that the transfer of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is complete.

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, World reports

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