Naftali Bennett's senior political adviser Shimrit Meir announced on Friday her resignation, leaving the prime minister without his closest confidante as his ruling coalition hangs in the balance.
Other advisers and officials at the prime minister's office have harshly criticized Meir's rebranding push, which they claim contributed to coalition whip Idit Silman's resignation last month.
Since her appointment a year ago, Meir has become Bennett's closest adviser. Alongside her work on Israeli diplomacy, she has become a leading figure in Bennett's efforts to appeal to the political center, which other advisers argue harmed the trust other Yamina lawmakers had in him.
In a letter to Bennett, Meir said the position demanded of her "significant sacrifice in my personal life," adding she will formally step down on June 1.
She detailed a series of diplomatic achievements she had a role in, also teasing "an important diplomatic process that was achieved only recently," without specifying further.
Bennett said Meir "contributed greatly to advancing Israel's diplomatic stance in the world, strengthening ties with the United States and Europe, and helped the fight against Iran."
The appointment of a former journalist and Arab affairs commentator was considered unexpected. Much like Bennett himself, she lacked any diplomatic experience.
- Naftali Bennett’s government is fixing for a fall
- Dynamics, not numbers, will determine the fate of Israel's government
- Netanyahu promised defectors, but Bennett's team came out on top this week
Still, Bennett managed to score some impressive wins for Israeli diplomacy with Meir's support, like the apparent American decision not to delist Iran Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group, stalling the opening of a U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem and forging closer ties with some Arab states.
Earlier this week Haaretz reported on a meeting Bennet held with his advisers where he has begun planning his next election campaign in case the current government will fall in coming weeks. Meir was present at the meeting, despite being a civil servant and not considered part of his political team. According to the civil service code of conduct, state employees cannot be involved in political matters.