Why is the official residence of Israel’s ambassador in Washington sitting empty for the past 4 years?
A Haaretz investigation found that the residence, in Washington’s Forest Hills neighborhood, was left untouched since the previous ambassador Michael Oren returned to Israel in 2013. His successor, Ron Dermer, who is Orthodox and who has a larger family, asked to move to house within walking distance of a synagogue. He eventually settled into a rental in Maryland’s Kenwood neighborhood and attends, at times, the Chabad synagogue in nearby Bethesda.
The official residence was in dire need of repairs and, according to a foreign ministry spokesman, was later deemed uninhabitable. But work on razing and rebuilding the house has not yet began and will only start in a few months.
Meanwhile, the state of Israel has paid an estimated $750,000 in rent for Dermer’s Kenwood residence in the four years since he was appointed ambassador.