Netanyahu leaves official residence a month after losing office

Mr Benjamin Netanyahu stayed in office longer than any other prime minister in Israel's history.
Mr Benjamin Netanyahu stayed in office longer than any other prime minister in Israel's history.PHOTO: AFP

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israel's former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu formally departed his official Jerusalem residence early on Sunday (July 11), nearly a month after he was ousted by his successor Naftali Bennett.

"A little after midnight, the Netanyahu family left the residence on Balfour (Street)," a spokesman for the family told journalists in a statement.

Moving trucks were spotted outside the residence and black Audi cars were filmed being towed from the property over the weekend.

The hawkish Mr Netanyahu, who served as Israel's leader for 12 straight years following an earlier three-year term, stayed in office longer than any other prime minister in Israel's history.

He remained in office even as he went to trial on charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust. He denies the charges and says they are a left-wing plot against him.

He led Israel through four deeply divisive elections in less than two years before right-wing nationalist Bennett was sworn in on June 13 to head an ideologically disparate coalition, unseating him.

However, Mr Netanyahu did not vacate the prime ministerial residence.

Instead, he continued to host dignitaries including Ms Nikki Haley, who served as US ambassador to the United Nations under former president Donald Trump.

In late June, Mr Netanyahu and Mr Bennett's offices announced a final date for the former premier to move out: Saturday, July 10.

Mr Netanyahu left after midnight on Sunday, slightly after the deadline he agreed to.

"Crime Minister", an organisation that has mounted weekly protests against Mr Netanyahu outside the residence for more than a year, mocked him on Sunday.

"The defendant and his family fled as the last of the thieves in the night," the group wrote on Facebook.

Mr Bennett is to take over the prime minister's residence on Sunday.