The Director-General of the Israeli foreign ministry, Dore Gold, has announced that he was leaving his position because of "personal issues."
A close confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the last 25 years, Gold is quitting the foreign ministry after 16 months during which he oversaw several diplomatic achievements.
A former ambassador to the UN, he has accompanied Netanyahu on many of his trips to Washington and the UN, and over the years has been one of Israel’s foremost unofficial spokesmen, speaking in the media and at conferences around the world on Israeli policy. He is often sought out by journalists and diplomats because of his knowledge of the issues, and because he is considered to be close to Netanyahu, thus reflecting his thinking.
Since Netanyahu, who is also acting Foreign Minister, appointed Gold as the ministry’s director-general in June 2015, he has been involved in many diplomatic activities, to the extent that some called him Israel’s de facto Foreign Minister.
For instance, Gold oversaw the rapprochement with several African countries. He has also met Arab diplomats, including several top officials of states that do not have formal relations with Jerusalem. Especially memorable was a joint appearance, days before he entered office, with Anwar Eshki, a retired Saudi general (with whom he met again in July).
Soon after formally entering the post he flew to Cairo to meet with the deputy foreign minister of Egypt, which agreed to send its first ambassador to Israel since 2012, and he has also held strategic bilateral talks with his counterparts from India and Turkey. It was Gold who signed the reconciliation agreement with Ankara in June.
In July, he signed an agreement with Guinea over the reestablishment of diplomatic relations. A few days later he met the president of Chad, a Muslim-majority country that does not have diplomatic relations with Israel. He was also the first senior Israeli official to visit South Africa and in September met with the country’s foreign minister, a perennial critic of Israel.
“I thank the Prime Minister for the trust he has placed in me and will continue to make myself available for any mission imposed on me in the future,” Gold, 63, said in a statement. “The position of Director-General of the foreign ministry was the personal and professional peak of the many years which I have served on the diplomatic front.”
Netanyahu thanked Gold for his “great contributions” to Israel’s diplomatic standing in the world, including in Africa and the Middle East. “Dore has been with me for 25 years and I am convinced he can be recruited to any mission, at any time of need,” he said.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely also expressed “sorrow” over Gold’s departure. He brought to the ministry his vast experience “in the American sphere as well as the Middle Eastern sphere,” she said in a statement. “I am sure his departure from the ministry’s management is not a departure from his continued service to the State of Israel.”
by Yossi Lempkowicz