Incoming Housing Minister Goldknopf owns illegally divided apartment - report

His wife is paying the property tax on the apartment in Jerusalem, which was illegally split up into five units.

 United Torah Judaism (UTJ) chairman rabbi Yitzchak Goldknopf is seen at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, July 28, 2022 (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
United Torah Judaism (UTJ) chairman rabbi Yitzchak Goldknopf is seen at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, July 28, 2022
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

United Torah Judaism leader Yitzhak Goldknopf, designated Construction and Housing Minister, is registered as the owner of a Jerusalem apartment, which was split into five units without proper permits while he was the owner - but no steps were taken against him by the municipality, according to a report by Haaretz.

According to the Land Registry (Tabu), Goldknopf is the owner of an apartment on Abraham Talmudi street in Jerusalem's Bukharan quarter and a warning note for the purchase was registered in his favor. The report by Haaretz found that the apartment is part of a regular apartment building with three floors, which was built ten years ago.

A visit to the apartment in question

The apartment has two floors and an attic. Property tax registration records in the Jerusalem Municipality list the apartment as owned by his wife Rivka and show the pair paying the property tax together.

A visit to the apartment showed that it was split into five units. The original entry door is still in place, but behind the door, there are two apartments on the first floor, two apartments on the second floor and a small one in the attic. Their doors show different family names. After knocking on the doors, it became clear that young Haredi families live in the artificially divided apartments.

According to sources in Goldknopf's circle, the pair does not own the apartment and did not divide it. They state that they did live there in the past, but left the apartment in March 2021. Today they live in a spacious apartment in the Schneller project, close to the Hasidut Gur's religious study hall to which Goldknopf belongs.

 Gur Hassidim attend the wedding of their Grand Rabbi Yaakov Aryeh Alter's grandson, Jerusalem 2019 (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) Gur Hassidim attend the wedding of their Grand Rabbi Yaakov Aryeh Alter's grandson, Jerusalem 2019 (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Goldknopf's reaction

In response to a request for a statement by Haaretz, Goldknopf's team replied that "contrary to what was claimed, the property wasn't registered in the Tabu under Rabbi Goldknopf's name. A warning note was registered in his favor for rights he had in the property, which were transferred and duly reported. The warning note has not been deleted yet for technical and procedural reasons. It is likely that you were mistaken and the attempt to label Rabbi Goldknopf as 'construction offender' as you wrote in your note, when the property is not owned by him is forced, self-righteous and troublesome."

After another appeal to Goldknopf requesting a response, he replied with a warning letter from his lawyers, threatening legal proceedings.

"Contrary to what is claimed, the apartment that your question is about is not owned by our client at all," the letter read. "Our client lived in the apartment until March 2021. Since then, he has not lived in the apartment, and he transferred his rights to it a long time ago, shortly after his departure. To be clear, the transaction transferring the ownership of the property was reported to the tax authorities according to the law. As for the property tax, this is a standing order that continued for decades and which continued inadvertently even after the rights were transferred."

"Our client thanks you for drawing his attention to this matter. It should be emphasized that during the time the apartment was under the control of Rabbi Goldknopf there was no division in it. If a division was made in the apartment, then it was made afterward, with no connection to our client. It should be noted that the registration in the complex in which the apartment is located was not regulated, to say the least, and it is possible that because of this, factual errors were caught. The complex is in the process of regularizing the registration, which will reflect the status of the rights."