Netanyahu's Acting Chief of Staff Quits After Losing Appointment as Cabinet Secretary

David Sharan informs Netanyahu he is taking a break from public life, months after reports said he would replace Avichai Mandelblit, who was appointed attorney general.

Netanyahu at the weekly cabinet meeting, May 15, 2016.
Emil Salman

David Sharan, the acting chief of staff at the Prime Minister's Office, has tendered his resignation after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu backtracked on plans to appoint him cabinet secretary, according to a statement published by the office on Tuesday.

The statement said Sharan informed Netanyahu of his desire to take a time-off from government service to examine a number of senior positions outside of the government.

David Sharan, former chief of staff for Israeli PM Netanyahu, was arrested September 3, 2017 in 'submarine affair.'
Tomer Appelbaum

Reports of Sharan's resignation were first published by Tal Shalev of Israeli news outlet Walla. 

Sharan joined the Prime Minister's Office a few months before the April 2015 elections, replacing the departed former bureau chief Ari Harow.

A few months ago, Netanyahu promised to appoint Sharan to the position of cabinet secretary instead of Avichai Mandelblit, who vacated the post after being named Israel's new attorney general.

However, in the time that has since passed, Netanyahu did not file his name with the relevant authorities, namely the Civil Service Commission, as is required in the appointment process. For some time it has been unclear whether Netanyahu does indeed intend to appoint him to the post or not, until it became clear several weeks ago that Netanyahu is backtracking on his promise to Sharan.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu has since named Yoav Horovitz to the position of chief of staff. His appointment will be put to the government for confirmation in the coming days. In lieu of a cabinet secretary and with a new senior official appointed above him, Sharan was left little choice but to leave.

Sharan is lieutenant colonel in the Israel Defense Forces reserves and is considered part of Netanyahu's circles since the 90s. Between 2009-2013 he was head of the bureau of Yuval Steinitz during his stint as finance minister. Afterwards he served as the secretary-general for government-owned Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company. A few years ago, Netanyahu and Steinitz tried to appoint Sharan as Israel's general consul in New York, but the move failed, in part due to opposition by then-foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman.

In the statement published by the Prime Minister's Office on Tuesday morning there was no reference to the crisis which sparked Sharan's departure. Instead, the statement said that Netanyahu "voiced great appreciation for Sharan for his management of the Prime Minister's Office and as acting chief of staff during the past six months, and thanked him for his professional conduct with government ministries and leading economic forces in the Israeli market."

The statement further said that "the prime minister said he is certain David Sharan will continue to contribute to Israel in the upcoming years in different capacities."

Sharan was also quoted in the statement as thanking Netanyahu for "the chance to run the Prime Minister's bureau and serving Israel at such an interesting and challenging time."