Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s close confidante and diplomatic adviser Shimrit Meir resigned from her position after 11 month on Friday, following controversies about her involvement in the premier’s political decisions.
Meir, a former journalist and Arab affairs analyst, was among the experts with whom Bennett consulted before becoming prime minister. He hired her in an official capacity last year.
However, her relationship with longtime Bennett aides – such as Cabinet Secretary Shalom Shlomo and Chief of Staff Tal Gan-Zvi – was very tense.
Though Meir’s position was diplomatic adviser, she was viewed as the force behind Bennett’s turn to more moderate political positions despite opposition from within his party.
Figures in the Prime Minister’s Office blamed Meir, who was in Washington meeting with Biden administration officials at the time, when Yamina MK Idit Silman resigned from the coalition.
Meir also took part in a meeting between Bennett and political adviser Aron Shaviv last month to discuss preparations for a possible election. After Haaretz reported on the meeting, the Movement for Quality Government in Israel called on the Civil Service Administration to call her in for a reprimand, because as a state employee, she should not be involved in political matters.
Last week, The Jerusalem Post reported on claims by diplomatic officials that Meir had misled Bennett and caused diplomatic crises with the United States, Russia and Ukraine.
In a letter to the prime minister, she said she had “a year full of work, from morning until night. The long list of missions you assigned me required a significant sacrifice in my personal life. As the end of a year working closely together approaches, this is the time to leave.”
“I dedicated all of my energy to helping you in the diplomatic area and beyond,” she wrote. “Building good relations with the Biden administration, strengthening relations with Arab states close and near, representing Israel well on the international stage and, most importantly, reaching important goals for the state that cannot be detailed, including a recent, significant diplomatic move.”
Meir’s resignation will take effect on June 1. She wrote that she plans to finish work that she started, such as US President Joe Biden’s visit next month.
“I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the State of Israel in such important areas and wish you luck,” she wrote.
Bennett tweeted that Meir “contributed greatly to promoting Israel’s diplomatic standing… acting professionally and with dedication and helping with the most complex and delicate diplomatic and security matters.
“I accepted her resignation with sadness, but I understand it,” Bennett wrote.