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JERUSALEM (AP) — There’s no plaque on the gate of the U.S. ambassador’s new residence in Jerusalem, no Stars and Stripes seen, no official itemizing as a notable abroad property.

The official residence of the American envoy is a rental and momentary, officers stated, secured after two years of house-hunting within the wake of then-President Donald Trump’s controversial resolution to maneuver the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Ambassador Tom Nides moved into the sleekly renovated villa in west Jerusalem’s leafy German Colony someday final spring. Native actual property brokers estimate its worth at round $23 million, and its proprietor and the embassy confirmed it’s being leased because the U.S. envoy’s official residence.

Emek Refaim Avenue is the newest cease for the American ambassador’s house on a greater than three-year migration from the seaside cliffs north of Tel Aviv to tension-filled Jerusalem. The journey displays the Trump administration’s divisive legacy and the reluctance of President Joe Biden — who will go to the area subsequent month — to roil relations with Israel over the problem.

Trump upended many years of U.S. coverage by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017, drawing plaudits from many Israelis and infuriating the Palestinians.

Israel captured east Jerusalem within the 1967 Mideast struggle and annexed it in a transfer not acknowledged internationally. The Palestinians need east Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state. Most international locations keep embassies in Tel Aviv due to the long-running dispute.

Trump moved the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv, and with it the storied residence of the U.S. ambassador. Below varied presidents, the envoy had beforehand been housed in a sprawling, five-bedroom seaside compound constructed on an acre (almost one-half hectare) of land, which Israel gave the US quickly after independence in 1948.

The earlier residence was a social hub for relations between the 2 shut allies. It was identified for its July Fourth blowouts, when hundreds of specifically invited visitors would watch the sundown and fireworks over the Mediterranean Sea.

Trump’s transfer put an finish to all that. The USA bought the property for more than $67 million, in accordance with official Israeli data. The State Division refused to launch key particulars of the sale, however the Israeli enterprise newspaper Globes recognized the customer as one of Trump’s biggest contributors: U.S. casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who died in 2021.

The cliffside compound appeared little modified from exterior the partitions on a latest day. Two Israeli flags waved from the flagpoles within the sea breeze. A spokesman for the Adelson household declined to remark.

The choice to promote the residence seems to have been aimed toward stopping any future president from reversing the embassy transfer, one thing Biden has lengthy dominated out.

Nevertheless it additionally pressured U.S. diplomats stationed within the area — most of whom continued working in Tel Aviv — to embark on a tough seek for new digs.

When Nides arrived final December, the plight of the “homeless ambassador” was the speak of diplomatic circles. There merely weren’t many choices in crowded Jerusalem for a compound massive and safe sufficient to function a U.S. ambassador’s official residence.

In most international locations, the official residence isn’t solely the ambassador’s house, however a spot for official ceremonies and social gatherings. A cramped condo merely will not do.

Nides initially moved into the Waldorf Astoria in Jerusalem, a tony sufficient tackle however not residing quarters suited to entertaining. Someday this previous spring, he moved to the property within the German Colony, one of the vital sought-after neighborhoods in Jerusalem.

The U.S. is leasing it and has notified Israel that the property would be the official residence for the American envoy, in accordance with the embassy. Different phrases of the association haven’t been made public, however there aren’t any plans to maneuver the ambassador to a different website. Officers from each international locations, in addition to the proprietor, declined to touch upon the property’s worth or its month-to-month lease.

If the intent was to maintain the residence low-profile, that is over too. On June 8, Nides tweeted a photograph from his “new neighborhood espresso store within the German colony.” His residence is surrounded by a tall white fence and dotted with security cameras. Guards can often be seen, according to local shop owners. When a gate opens, looky-loos can catch glimpses of a parking area and courtyard.

Arielle Cohen, legal counsel for the owner, Blue Marble Ltd., doesn’t dispute local reports that the company spent 50 million shekels (about $14.5 million) on the historic restoration. Her father, Avi Ruimi, grew up in the German Colony and founded the company, which specializes in historic restorations and owns several other addresses on the street.

Blue Marble bought the property in 2004. Construction lasted six years and finished in 2020, as it became clear that the U.S. ambassador would need a new home.

“We knew it was a possibility,” Cohen said in an interview. She declined to comment on the signing process but called the contract a “wonderful milestone.” She said the residence itself is about 570 square meters (about 6,000 square feet) with a second building that roughly doubles the size.

A gallery on the company’s website says one building includes two apartments and commercial space. The second is “a beautiful private villa.” A portfolio on Blue Marble’s web site shows a sleekly renovated interior, with a modern kitchen, fixtures and high ceilings.

Local media have reported that the property dates to 1930 and was built by a wealthy Palestinian family. West Jerusalem was home to a number of upscale Palestinian neighborhoods known for their stone villas before the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation, when most Palestinians on that side of the city fled or were driven out.

The residence housed unmarried British police officers during the British mandate prior to 1948, and has also been used as a fire station, school and flower shop over the years.

It’s unclear whether Biden will visit the residence during his brief stopover in Israel next month.

His discussions with Israeli and Palestinian leaders are likely to focus on another consequence of Trump’s embassy move — the shuttering of a U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem that served Palestinians.

The Palestinians have called on the Biden administration to deliver on its pledge to reopen the consulate, which would reinforce their claim to part of the city and help mend U.S.-Palestinian ties ruptured during the Trump years.

Israel is staunchly opposed to any reopening of the consulate for the same reason — another real-estate dispute in a region where they seem to multiply with every passing year.



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