Attorney Yitzhak Molcho (right) sits with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara.
(photo credit: MOSHE MILNER / GPO)
Yitzhak Molcho, arguably Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s closest and most-trusted adviser, will leave his post as Netanyahu’s diplomatic envoy early next year, the Prime Minister’s Office announced on Wednesday.
Molcho, a Jerusalem corporate and commercial lawyer who retained his private practice even as he carried out sensitive diplomatic missions for the prime minister in Cairo, Amman, Ramallah and Washington, has been at Netanyahu’s side since he became prime minister in 2009, and before that during Netanyahu’s first term from 1996 to 1999. He has been Netanyahu’s chief negotiator with the Palestinians and the Arab world.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Molcho, 73, will leave his post at the end of February, giving Netanyahu time to find a replacement.
The PMO said Molcho has been asking to be relieved of his duties for some time, and that, after urging him to remain, Netanyahu finally agreed.
In a letter to Molcho, Netanyahu wrote: “This time, unwillingly and in the face of your determined stance, I decided to accede to your request.”
Netanyahu wrote that Molcho has carried out his duties – on a voluntary basis – “with a rare combination of talent, experience and comprehensive knowledge of the issues.
It is not yet time to reveal all your actions, but I am sure that when this moment comes, Israeli citizens will greatly appreciate your contribution.
It is no wonder that I, and the government ministers who know your work, are deeply appreciative.”
Molcho, who has known Netanyahu since they grew up together in Jerusalem’s Rehavia neighborhood, has carried out the prime minister’s diplomatic missions far from the spotlight.
Molcho, together with David Shimron – Netanyahu’s private lawyer who was investigated over the summer in connection with Case 3000 involving the sale of three German submarines to Israel – runs one of the leading commercial and corporate law firms in the country.
Molcho is not on the government’s payroll, and receives a symbolic payment of one shekel a year for this work. Sources in the PMO said Molcho explained his desire to leave to wanting to devote more time to his family, the Israel Museum – of which he is chairman – and his law firm.