$87 million: US ambassador’s residence in Israel up for sale

With the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, the luxury estate used by the American ambassador and famous for its massive July 4 extravaganzas is on the market.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Ever since the United States moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Fourth of July has not been the same.

With current ambassador David Friedman ensconced in a residence in Israel’s capital, the U.S. government is selling off the luxury property formerly used to house the ambassador for a price of $87 million.

“Following the decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem it made sense to sell the residence in Herzliya,” a State Department statement said.

At that price, the property would be the most expensive residential sale in Israel’s history, topping the whopping $65 million Russian-Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovich paid for a nearby home in Herzliya earlier this year, Ynet reported.

Located on the beach in the ritzy high-rent district of Herzliya, just north of Tel Aviv, the 1.25 acre site is known as the most prestigious diplomatic residence in the country.

Although it has hosted a bevy of famous diplomats and politicians, the residence is probably best known as the venue for the massive annual Fourth of July Independence Day party that, along with the embassy, is now held in Jerusalem.

The massive event saw the who’s-who of Israeli society crowded into the grounds and sweating buckets in the oppressive summer heat and humidity, the large outdoor pool off limits and usually decorated with red, white and blue balloons for the occasion.

To that event were invited  the prime minister, president, the cabinet, Knesset members, industry and academic leaders and any organization doing major business with the U.S.

Getting on the embassy guest list was a badge of honor – a sign that you’d made it as a VIP and had the privilege of fighting for an elusive parking spot and trying not to sweat through your clothes as you vied to get a picture snapped with the ambassador, or if very lucky, the prime minister.

In the 1990s the embassy asked American companies that operated in Israel to co-sponsor the event, and since then guests have been feted with massive doses of American cuisine at stands set up on the well-groomed grounds handing out freebies.

Depending on which companies were active in the Israeli market, the menu ranged from McDonald’s and Burger King hamburgers to Ben and Jerry’s ice cream or Mister Donuts.

The highlight of the evening, after the speeches praising the U.S.-Israel relationship, was the Marine Corps color-guard marching in with the flag and watching the fireworks.

Since the 2018 embassy move to Jerusalem the celebrations have still been big, but it will take a while to develop a new Fourth of July culture to match the annual pilgrimage to the estate by the sea in Herzliya.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced the 2020 July 4 celebration online, however, the person who can afford the price tag for buying the former residence will also have the deep pockets to host their own Independence Day barbecue.