US ambassador Tom Nides moved to Jerusalem in December after President Trumps decision to relocate the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem . The ambassador had previously been housed in a sprawling, five-bedroom seaside compound built on an acre of land which Israel gave to the US shortly after independence in 1948 .
JERUSALEM, April 5, 2019: On the gate of the US ambassadors' new home in Jerusalem, there are no stars and stripes visible, and there is no official listing as a notable overseas property.Officials said the American envoy's official residence is a rental and temporary home, which was secured after two years of house-hunting following President Donald Trump's unpopular decision to relocate the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.Toward the end of last season, Ambassador Tom Nides resurfaced in a sleekly renovated villa in west Jerusalems leafy German Colony.The value of this property is estimated to be around $23 million by local real estate agents, who also disclosed that it has been leased as the US envoys' official residence.The trip reflects the Trump administration's divisive legacy and the displeasure of President Joe Biden, who will fly to the region next month to stoke tensions with Israel over the issue.In 2017, Trump upended decades of US policy by designating Jerusalem as Israel's capital, drawing the praise of many Israelis and enraged the Palestinians.In a move not recognized internationally, Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed it.The Palestinians want east Jerusalem to be the capital of their new state. Trump relocated the US Embassy from Tel Aviv, and with it the long-serving residence of the US ambassador.The envoy had previously been housed in a sprawling, five-bedroom seaside compound built on an acre (nearly one-half hectare) of land which Israel gave to the US shortly after independence in 1948.The previous residence was a social hub for the two closest allies.It was also known for its July Fourth blowouts, in which thousands of specially invited guests could watch the sunset and fireworks over the Mediterranean Sea. According to official Israeli records, the US sold the property for more than $67 million.The State Department declined to release specifics of the sale, but Israeli business newspaper Globes cited the purchaser as one of Trump's top contributors, Sheldon Adelson, a 2021 ceo.On a recent day, the cliffside compound seemed little different from outside the walls.In the sea breeze, two Israeli flagpoles swayed from the flagpoles. The decision to sell the home seems to have been made in order to discourage a future president from reversing the embassy move, something Biden has long opposed.It also forced US diplomats stationed in the region, the bulk of whom were still stationed in Tel Aviv, to embark on a treacherous hunt for new digs.The situation of the homeless ambassador was the subject of diplomatic debate when Nides arrived in December.In crowded Jerusalem, there were just no options for a large and secure compound that would serve as a US ambassadors official residence. A shabby apartment is just fine.Nides first stayed in Jerusalem's Waldorf Astoria, which was a tony enough address but with no living quarters suitable for entertaining.He purchased a house in the German Colony, one of Jerusalem's most desired areas this spring, and moved there later that year.According to the embassy, the US is letting it out and has informed Israel that the property will be the country's official residence. Officials from both countries, as well as the property's owner, declined to comment on the property's value or monthly rent.That would be unfair if the intention was to keep the residence low-profile.Nides posted a video from his new neighborhood coffee shop in the German colony on June 8th.His house is surrounded by a tall white fence and dotted with security cameras. When a gate opens, looky-loos can see a parking lot and a courtyard.According to Arielle Cohen, the owner of Blue Marble Ltd.'s legal counsel, the firm invested 50 million shekels (roughly $14.5 million) on the historic restoration.Avi Ruimi, her father, grew up in the German Colony and founded the firm, which concentrates on historic restorations and owns several other addresses along the way.Blue Marble purchased the property in 2004. In an interview, Cohen said that we knew it was a possibility.She declined to comment on the signing process but called the agreement a great achievement.According to her, the residence itself is about 570 square meters (roughly 6,000 square feet), with a second building that roughly doubles the size.According to a gallery on the company's website, one building contains two apartments and commercial space. A portfolio on the Blue Marbles web site depicts a modern kitchen, stainless steel, and high ceilings.According to local reports, the home dates back to 1930 and was purchased by a wealthy Palestinian family.Before the 1948 war that surrounded Israel's establishment, West Jerusalem was home to a number of upscale Palestinian communities known for their stone villas, as the majority of Palestinians on the other side of the city fled or were driven out.During the British mandate before 1948, the home also served as a fire station, school, and flower shop. His talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials are likely to concentrate on another consequence of Trump's embassy move, the closing of a US Consulate in Jerusalem that served Palestinians.The Palestinians have urged the Biden administration to honour its promise to reopen the consulate, which would strengthen their claim to a portion of the city and help mend US-Palestinian relations that broke during the Trump years.Israel is vehemently opposed to reopening the consulate for the same reason that another real estate crisis in a world where they seem to increase with each passing year seems to be resolving.