Key member of Netanyahu inner circle resigns

From the time he was named chief-of-staff in 2016, Horowitz emerged as a key adviser to the prime minister, whose inner circle is very small.

June 12, 2019 04:59
2 minute read.
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset in Jerusalem. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Yoav Horowitz, director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, announced his resignation on Tuesday, leaving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with one less trusted member of his inner circle.

Netanyahu appointed Horowitz as his chief of staff in May 2016, bringing him into government service from his former job as CEO of Avis Israel. The two men go back a number of years, with Horowitz having served in a senior position on Netanyahu’s 2006 campaign in the Likud primaries.

A year ago, Netanyahu added to Horowitz’s duties as chief-of-staff the job as PMO director-general, replacing Eli Groner.

From the time he was named chief-of-staff in 2016, Horowitz emerged as a key adviser to Netanyahu, whose inner circle is very small.

According to a PMO statement, Horowitz’s decision to step down follows an announcement he made to Netanyahu prior to the April 9 election that he wished to resign with the establishment of the government, or – at the latest – in June.

Netanyahu praised Horowitz, saying that he was at the center of activity in the PMO, and “helped me greatly in the important work for the state of Israel.” Horowitz, who kept a low-profile during his tenure, thanked Netanyahu for the opportunity.

Netanyahu named deputy cabinet secretary Ronen Peretz as acting PMO director-general, and said that he will work “in partnership” with Avi Simhon, head of the National Economic Council.

“I am sure that Ronen, who has been in the office for six years, will know how to run it professionally and properly,” Netanyahu said.

According to the description on the Prime Minister Office’s website, the director-general “heads the administrative work and oversees the policies carried out in the Prime Minister’s Office on a variety of economic, social and civilian topics. The director-general consolidates the administrative work of the government on these subjects on behalf of the prime minister, and he leads and is a central partner in large-scale national projects on the government’s and the prime minister’s agenda.

Gabbay is still expected to run for Knesset, whether Wednesday’s Labor convention decides to keep the current list of Knesset candidates for the September 17 election or holds a new primary for the list among the 60,000 party members.

The former businessman and minister with the Kulanu party won the July 4, 2017, Labor leadership race with great fanfare, defeating MK Amir Peretz in a run-off race after the two candidates won more votes than six other candidates.

Gabbay ran a campaign in which he promised not to enter Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, but after the April 9 election he negotiated a deal with Netanyahu, and said over the weekend that he still regrets not joining Netanyahu’s coalition and preventing the new election.

Labor has still not decided how to elect Gabbay’s successor. The party postponed its convention that had been scheduled for Wednesday after the Tel Aviv District Court ruled that the party’s 60,000 registered members – and not the 3,500 activists eligible to vote in the convention – must decide what body should select Labor’s next leader.

Hagay Hacohen contributed to this report.

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