SARA NETANYAHU (right) rededicates the Julius House as the Eshkol House..
(photo credit: GPO)
After being abandoned for more than 40 years, the first official prime minister’s residence in Israel was rededicated on Tuesday as Eshkol House.
The Bauhaus building at 46 Ben Maimon Boulevard in Jerusalem’s Rehavia neighborhood was built at the behest of Julius and Nechama Jacobs in 1933.
Julius was killed in 1946, and the house was subsequently rented to the Jewish Agency.
When Ben-Gurion moved the government to Jerusalem, he needed a residence that would be close to the Jewish Agency, as it housed the government and the Knesset.
The Julius House was an ideal solution, and it was occupied by three prime ministers: by Ben-Gurion, who set up his residence there in 1950; Levi Eshkol and Golda Meir.
When Yitzhak Rabin was elected prime minister, Leah Rabin went to look at the house and found it in such a state of disrepair that she refused to live in it. So the Rabins moved into the house on the corner of Smolenskin Street and Balfour Street.
The house on Ben Maimon became increasingly dilapidated as homeless people, drug addicts and alcoholics managed to get past the fence and bed down for the night.
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A few years ago, the government gifted the house to the Eshkol Foundation, headed by Eshkol’s third wife and widow, Miriam Eshkol, to create an educational memorial for him.
Unfortunately, Miriam Eshkol died last month without seeing the fruits of her labor.
At the rededication ceremony, opposition leader Isaac Herzog referred to former prime minister Levi Eshkol’s ability to create unity and overcome divisiveness.
“He knew how to establish the national-unity government that brought about the Six Day War victory, but after the war he called for peace with Israel’s neighbors and was willing to cede land for peace,” he said.
Herzog said he had grown up on tales of Eshkol because his uncle, Ya’acov Herzog, had been the director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office during the Eshkol administration.
“When he needed to fight he fought, and when he needed to compromise, he comprised – not out of weakness, but because he understood the situation,” he said.
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