Building to include office and save NIS 16m. yearly, the cost of shuttling PM from residence to office.
By HERB KEINON
In its last cabinet meeting before Tuesday's election, the government approved plans on Sunday to build a new residence/office for the prime minister at a cost of NIS 650 million.
The more than 11,000-meter building will be built across the street from the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, and just a couple of blocks from the Knesset.
The cost of the project is to be spread over a 20-year period.
Four ministers voted against the project: Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On, who presented the cabinet with a document saying there was no budget for it and that this tough economic period was not the time to undertake this type of project; Education Minister Yuli Tamir, who said afterward that the same sum of money could be used to improve every school in the country; Environmental Protection Minister Gideon Ezra; and Negev and Galilee Development Minister Ya'acov Edri.
The building will serve both as the prime minister's official residence - in place of the current residence in the heart of the city's Rehavia neighborhood - and as the Prime Minister's Office, housing some 750 workers and replacing the current office in the complex of government buildings just down the street from the new project.
That the new project will enable the prime minister to work and sleep in the same complex is expected to cut down significantly on both the security and transportation costs involved in having the prime minister's residence separate from his office.
No completion date has been set for the project, designed by noted Jerusalem architect Ram Carmi, but excavation work has already been going on for some two years.
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