Former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Dore Gold will head up the Foreign Ministry, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Monday shortly after firing director Nissim Ben Shitrit.
Gold, who heads the conservative-leaning Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is considered to be one of Netanyahu’s closest confidants.
He has served as an adviser to the prime minister on various issues during Netanyahu’s previous three terms in office, including most recently on foreign policy matters.
“I am aware of the various significant challenges facing Israel in this time, and my duty to protect the country’s interests,” Gold said, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Career diplomat Ben Shitrit was appointed to his post a year ago by Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Libermen, then the foreign minister. Since forming his government earlier this month, Netanyahu has not appointed a foreign minister, and therefore currently assumes responsibility for the ministry’s affairs. Liberman did not join the new coalition.
“I am proud of my 50 years of service in the Foreign Ministry, from the junior tier to the most senior position,” Ben Shitrit said in a statement. “I filled all my duties with love, faith and a deep sense of purpose. I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the State of Israel and to serve its citizens over the years.”
Gold’s book “The Fight for Jerusalem: Radical Islam, the West, and the Future of the Holy City,” a New York Times bestseller first published in 2007, argues that the capital needs to remain united under Israeli sovereignty based on the Jewish people’s historical rights and Israel’s responsibility to safeguard the holy sites in the Old City.
In an interview with The Times of Israel last year, Gold argued that Jerusalem was always a Jewish city, and claimed that its holy sites would be in danger of destruction if any authority other than Israel were to rule over the Old City.
Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.