Netanyahu taps diplomat Dore Gold for key foreign role

 Netanyahu taps diplomat Dore Gold for key foreign role
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday named Dore Gold, a seasoned diplomat seen as reluctant to make concessions to the Palestinians, as his director general of foreign affairs.

Gold was an adviser to Netanyahu after he first took office in 1996. Israel's ambassador to the UN from 1997-1999, he also advised former premier Ariel Sharon.

He was involved in various talks with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu enlisted his services again as a foreign affairs consultant in January 2014 while he was head of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs think tank.

"He is considered to have relatively hawkish views on the Palestinian issue and has never publicly voiced support for the two-state solution," the Haaretz daily wrote at the time.

US-born Gold says Iran poses an "existential threat" to Israel and wants to dominate the region.

Following his March election victory, Netanyahu kept the foreign minister post for himself.

Netanyahu appointed Tzipi Hotovely, an ultra-Orthodox from his Likud party's far right, as deputy foreign minister in a coalition government that includes fervent supporters of settlements and opponents of Palestinian statehood.

In her first major speech on Thursday, Hotovely declared that all territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, which includes the West Bank, belongs to Israel.

Netanyahu's appointment of Gold was seen as an attempt to keep a rein on Hotovely, Haaretz said.

The premier on Monday also named Gilad Erdan, interior minister in the outgoing government, minister of internal security, public diplomacy and strategic affairs.

This portfolio theoretically gives Likud stalwart and close Netanyahu ally Erdan charge of the Iranian nuclear issue.

However, this role has already been entrusted to Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz in the new government.

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