Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday that he wants to step down within a few weeks, as soon as the new government is in place.
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The Prime Minister's Office said in a press release that Netanyahu thanked Hauser for his service over the past four years and asked him to stay on for a period to train his successor.
Hauser began working with Netanyahu in 1993 as his media adviser, and when Netanyahu became prime minister in 2009 he picked Hauser for the sensitive and important position of cabinet secretary. In addition to his official duties, which include responsibility for the work of the cabinet and of the various ministerial committees, during most of his time in the post he was also one of Netanyahu's closest advisers, weighing in on political matters and on issues related to defense and foreign affairs.
Hauser, who is an attorney by profession, is more opinionated than most of Netanyahu's advisers have been during the past four years, and he has not hesitated to disagree with the prime minister in closed forums. He is considered an independent thinker, and his positions are usually more moderate than his coterie colleagues. For example, Hauser was the only participant in the meeting of senior cabinet ministers prior to the Turkish flotilla to the Gaza Strip who proposed letting the boats reach their destination in order to avoid a highly public confrontation. Defense Minister Ehud Barak dismissed the idea entirely. Hauser is also seen as one of the few people in the Prime Minister's Office who urged Netanyahu to introduce a peace initiative during his current term in office.
During the past four years, Hauser and a few of the more moderate cabinet ministers have sought to head off antidemocratic legislative proposals and to stop Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman's initiative to split up the position of attorney general. He was also the driving force behind the National Heritage Program, under whose auspices dozens of historical sites around the country have been restored after decades of neglect.
One of the most notable incidents of the past four years involving Hauser was the disclosure of the Natan Eshel affair. Eshel, Netanyahu's bureau chief until early in 2012, was forced to resign in disgrace last year after he was accused of sexual misconduct against a subordinate. Hauser, together with the head of the National Information Directorate, Yoaz Hendel, and Netanyahu's military secretary, Yohanan Locker, went to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and told him about Eshel's inappropriate behavior.
The Eshel incident created tension between Hauser and Netanyahu which became obvious during one televised cabinet meeting. But the prime minister did not show Hauser the door, as he did Hendel.
After a long period during which Netanyahu barred Hauser from some discussions and decision-making, the tension between the pair eased, although their relationship has never fully recovered from the Eshel affair.
Hauser chose not to put his name in the hat as a Likud Knesset candidate in the last primary after realizing that Netanyahu did not intend to help or support him. Hauser is expected to find work in the private sector rather than look for another government position.