Netanyahu´s chief spokesman resigns (AFP) AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE) 02/22/12)
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed on Wednesday that
his main spokesman had resigned, a day after media reports named Yoaz
Hendel as the latest in a string of high-profile figures to leave his
"Netanyahu thanked Hendel for his great contribution to Israeli
public diplomacy in Israel and the world," a statement read, adding
that the new communications director will be Liran Dan.
The news of Hendel´s resignation came two days after Netanyahu´s
chief of staff, Natan Eshel, stepped down after admitting misconduct
towards a younger female staff member.
Hendel´s departure has been widely linked to the so-called Eshel
affair which came to light after he and two other senior figures,
Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser and Military Secretary Yohanan Locker,
filed a complaint with the attorney general alleging Eshel had
harassed a female staffer.
The three acted without informing Netanyahu of the suspicions and
The move reportedly infuriated Netanyahu, who on Tuesday told the
trio he had "lost confidence" in them over their not informing him of
the incident, Israel´s main newspapers reported.
Shortly afterwards, Hendel tendered his resignation, sources at the
bureau told the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper, adding Hauser was
also expected to resign "soon."
Locker is also set to leave, although his move to a take up a new
role within the military was pre-planned.
On Wednesday, Netanyahu said it was wrong that he had only learned
about the charges against his chief of staff through the media.
"The right thing to do in any system in the case of a concern over a
harassment is to immediately take it to the responsible authorities
and to deal with it. That is precisely what I would have done in this
case," he told a news conference.
"What is wrong is that the head of the system, in this case the prime
minister, does not know of such a central issue taking place in his
own bureau for a month-and-a-half, and has to learn about it through
the media," he said.
The affair created "a difficult, painful and uncomfortable situation"
in his office, Netanyahu added.
The latest resignation follows several other departures from the
prime minister´s office in the past 14 months.
It also comes at a time of huge tension between Israel and Iran, with
speculation rife that the premier and Defence Minister Ehud Barak are
considering a pre-emptive strike on Tehran´s disputed nuclear
In December 2010, Hendel´s predecessor Nir Hefetz, announced his
surprise resignation, saying he wanted to return to the private
Two months later, national security adviser Uzi Arad also left, with
reports suggesting he was axed over leaking information to the press.
And during the summer, director general Eyal Gabbai also stepped
down, citing exhaustion.
"What does it say about the day-to-day workings inside the prime
minister´s office?" wondered a Jerusalem Post editorial a day after
"This is not just any office, Eshel was not just any boss, and these
are not just any times." (Copyright © 2012 Agence France Presse.
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