The rising sun lights One World Trade as it stands over the Manhattan borough of New York, US, November 2, 2016.
(photo credit: REUTERS/LUCAS JACKSON)
A luxurious New York apartment purchased by the State of Israel and that has been home to twelve Israeli ambassadors to the United Nations is apparently registered in the name of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, raising questions regarding his possible interests in the property.
A Globes investigation discovered that the Manhattan apartment, located at 1010 5th Avenue, was purchased by Israel in 1986, during Netanyahu's tenure as Israel's ambassador to the UN, but is still registered in the prime minister's name 32 years later despite belonging to the state.
A freedom of information request revealed that the apartment, now home to Israeli envoy Danny Danon, was leased to Israel by its private owner from 1978 until 1986. Israel then purchased the apartment for $99,000.
The apartment was valued at $4 million by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1988 and is estimated to be worth approximately $15 million today.
After six months of declining to comment on the matter, said Globes
, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed Wednesday that the apartment is registered in the name of Netanyahu, but told the financial newspaper that Netanyahu has no connection to the property.
"Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Benjamin Netanyahu has no connection or affinity of any kind to the ambassador to the UN's apartment in New York," said the ministry in response to the Globes
investigation, carried out in partnership with Hatzlaha, an Israeli NGO seeking to encourage enforcement of economic regulations and compliance.
A second New York apartment purchased in 1986 for the New York Consulate's communications and culture consul was also registered in the name of the then-holder of the position. The response to the freedom of information request reportedly failed to clarify whether the apartment had been subsequently registered as belonging to the state.
"In the 1980s, the State of Israel bought two official residential apartments for the ambassador to the UN and the consul general in New York," said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"Netanyahu's name appears on the documents because he was serving as ambassador to the UN at the time, due to the ownership structure for the apartments," the statement continued.
"An intensive legal proceeding has been in progress since December 2016 with the holding company in New York to arrange the question of the registration so that it will be solely in the name of the State of Israel. It has been made clear legally to all the parties involved that serving diplomats have no rights to the apartment and that there is no doubt that the apartments belong solely to the state of Israel.
"The matter is being handled in coordination with the Ministry of Finance Accountant General and the Attorney General," the statement concluded.