PMO Head Leaving Suddenly After Only Two Years

Director General of Prime Minister's office, Eyal Gabbai, resigns Monday, citing exhaustion.

The director general of the Prime Minister's Office, Eyal Gabbai, wants to step down after only two years on the job.

Gabbai headed 20 committees discussing matters considered controversial or central to the Israeli economy, including economic concentration, natural gas taxation and pyramid control structures.

Eyal Gabbai - Ilya Melnikov
Ilya Melnikov

He told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of his decision on Monday, reportedly saying he was exhausted. Netanyahu asked him to reconsider, and the two agreed to speak next week. But Gabbai is not expected to change his mind.

"Gabbai is staying in his post for the time being," the Prime Minister's Office said, declining to elaborate.

Gabbai is expected to find a job in the private sector after waiting out the required one-year cooling-off period.

Government sources expressed surprise that Gabbai was leaving. Director generals at the Prime Minister's Office usually stay for a minimum of three or four years, one said. However, several other top officials have left the office over the past few months.

Gabbai and Netanyahu have clashed on several issues recently. Gabbai objected to the recent changes to real estate taxes, and to Netanyahu's decision to appoint Moshe Dayan civil service commissioner.

His departure is expected to leave several major issues open. The committee on economic concentration had been scheduled to submit its findings at the end of the year. Four other committee members were replaced over the past six months.

Gabbai has also been handling the issue of unrecognized Bedouin towns.

Last year, after the High Court of Justice forbade the paying of income stipends to yeshiva students, Gabbai led a committee that recommended setting limits on how long yeshiva students could receive stipends. Until then, the stipends had been unlimited.

Gabbai also frequently served as an arbitrator between the Prime Minister's Office and the various ministries. He played an important role in hashing out the 2011-12 national budget, and helped get the new Bank of Israel Law passed.