Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s confidant quits on backdrop of submarine graft scandal

October 26, 2017 4:09 pm
A file photo of Yitzhak Molcho (R), Israeli Prime Minister ’s personal envoy
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s personal envoy and confidant has resigned on the backdrop of ties to a submarine graft scandal in which Netanyahu is implicated.
“I respectfully request that you discharge me from my position as emissary and special diplomatic adviser to the premier,” wrote Yitzhak Molcho in a letter to the Israeli prime minister on Wednesday.
Molcho served in the said positions during Netanyahu’s first term as prime minister from 1996 to 1999 and then again since 2009.
He also headed negotiations with Palestinians, and was Bibi’s envoy during talks with neighboring Arab countries Jordan and Egypt. At the time, lawmakers censured his actions as he only answered to Netanyahu and was not accountable for official parliamentary checks.
Molcho is also partner in a law firm with David Shimron (seen below), Netanyahu’s attorney and cousin, who is subject to a graft probe involving the purchase of submarines from Germany.
Earlier in the year, a High Court of Justice petition was filed against Molcho concerning his work for Netanyahu.
The announcement of Molcho’s resignation comes a day ahead of a deadline for a response to the petition.  
Back in 2016, Netanyahu authorized the purchase of three submarines from ThyssenKrupp even as military strategists believed it was unnecessary and therefore did not mandate the purchases. Later, and despite a protest from the then-minister for military affairs, Moshe Ya’alon, Netanyahu planned to quietly sign a deal to buy the subs. Ya’alon protested once again, and although the deal was not signed, he was reportedly forced to resign.
Later, speculation was raised that Netanyahu’s personal lawyer, Shimron, had lobbied military officials to approve the purchases from ThyssenKrupp.
All of that has raised suspicions of a breach of trust. And the case may proceed as far as to implicate Netanyahu himself, whose political fate would hang in the balance as more details may come to light, especially with the Monday arrests of his close associates.
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