Ambassador's villa in Israel up for sale

By Anshel Pfeffer and Marcus Dysch, September 22, 2011
The Queen’s birthday at the villa

The Queen’s birthday at the villa

The residence of Britain's ambassador to Israel is to be sold, amid plans to move the diplomat to a more modern, accessible property.

The Foreign Office has put the luxurious villa on the market following spending cuts.

Currently occupied by Ambassador Matthew Gould and his family, the 2,860-square-metre site in Ramat Gan, east of Tel Aviv, has served every British ambassador since the UK established diplomatic relations with Israel six decades ago.

Despite its possessing exquisite gardens, the property – valued at £6.2 million – is notorious for its poor parking options and general access.

As a result, dignitaries have tended to stay away from official functions in recent years. Other countries have moved their residences away from the area, leaving the British villa geographically out of the diplomatic circuit.

Among the notable guests to have stayed at the residence are Prince Phillip, during his 1994 private trip to Israel when his mother, Princess Alice, was reinterred on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.

The sale will depend on the price the villa can fetch and the cost of purchasing a new residence better suited to serving as a venue for official receptions hosted by the ambassador, including the Queen's birthday.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We've advertised the property and are testing the market.

"If it is sold, we will source suitable accommodation that is an appropriate standard, while ensuring best value for money for the taxpayer."

Last updated: 2:06pm, September 22 2011