€4 million building Foreign Ministry bought is empty a year later

The Foreign Ministry’s spokesman said “the building has been put up for sale and will be sold soon.”

Is the Foreign Ministry holding on to property it can’t use for political reasons? (photo credit: Courtesy)
Is the Foreign Ministry holding on to property it can’t use for political reasons?
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Foreign Ministry bought a new building in The Hague for its embassy in the Netherlands without checking its security weaknesses, and it has remained empty for a year while other offices were rented, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
As the building sat empty, the Foreign Ministry signed a lease for a new 1,150-sq.-m. facility last August. The embassy moved two weeks ago.
The decision to move the embassy was made several years ago, and the new embassy building was purchased with the help of its Dutch counterpart, the Foreign Ministry said.
However, only after buying the property did the Foreign Ministry find out that “the security costs for the new building are very high and made the entire move not worth it,” the Foreign Ministry spokesman said. “In light of this, it was decided to move to an office building in The Hague where the rental cost less than that of the original embassy.”
“The building has been put up for sale and will be sold soon,” the spokesman said, meaning more than a year after it was known to be unusable.
The Finance Ministry accountant-general determined when the building could be put on the market, the Foreign Ministry spokesman said.
The building was kept off the market in the hope a sale could be delayed until Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz becomes premier and that he would allow the proceeds to remain in the Foreign Ministry, a portfolio that went to his Blue and White Party, as opposed to back to the Finance Ministry for distribution to other parts of the government, a person familiar with the matter said.
The Foreign Ministry spokesman denied that there was anything political about the delay in the building’s sale.
Is the Foreign Ministry holding on to property it can’t use for political reasons? (Courtesy)Is the Foreign Ministry holding on to property it can’t use for political reasons? (Courtesy)

The Foreign Ministry’s budget was NIS 1.385 billion in 2019, which meant many of its core activities could not take place because its primary functions cost NIS 1.53b. annually. This could have a negative influence on Israel’s relations with the world and services for Israelis abroad, the State Comptroller’s Report warned in May.
The Foreign Ministry budget was cut 14.7% between 2018 and 2019, even though the state budget increased 4.3%. It was the largest cut to any ministry except the Interior Ministry, which conducted municipal elections in 2018.