Attorney Yitzhak Molcho
Attorney Yitzhak MolchoFlash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's personal diplomatic envoy and confidant, Attorney Yitzhak Molcho, announced Wednesday he was relinquishing his voluntary position on the backdrop of growing public criticism of his undefined function.

"Pursuant to my previous contacts in this regard, I respectfully request that you discharge me from my position…which I have fulfilled for many years as a national service on a voluntary basis," Molcho wrote to Netanyahu in a letter distributed by the Prime Minister's Office.

In his reply to Molcho, Prime Minister Netanyahu wrote, "In light of your determined position, I have decided to accede to your request. At the same time, I am pleased that you have agreed to delay the date of your leaving until the end of February 2018, thus enabling me to find an appropriate replacement for this vital position.”

“I need not enumerate the sensitive and important diplomatic missions that you have carried out. You did so with a rare combination of ability, experience and a deep and comprehensive knowledge of the issues. The time has not yet come to reveal all of your activities but I am certain that when that time does come, the citizens of Israel will greatly appreciate your contribution. It is no wonder that the government ministers and I, who are aware of your efforts, feel the highest esteem for you,” continued Netanyahu.

“Many leaders have praised you and noted that they could always talk to you freely because you never sought any sort of publicity for your great work and contribution. Like your father before you, you have worked on behalf of the country as a national and voluntary service," he concluded.

Molcho has in the past led Israeli negotiating teams with the Palestinian Authority, and was Netanyahu's pointman for resolving sensitive issues with neighboring Arab states Egypt and Jordan.

Since he answered to Netanyahu only and was accountable to no formal parliamentary checks, lawmakers criticized at time the lack of transparency in his actions.

Molcho is partner in a law firm with David Shimron, Netanyahu's relative and attorney, who has been investigated as part of the graft scandal involving the purchase of submarines from Germany.

Molcho has not been questioned in connection with the submarine affair. Netanyahu is not a suspect in the case.

Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports on Wednesday indicated that Dr. Dore Gold, who served in the past as Israel's ambassador to the United Nations and as director-general of the Foreign Ministry, is one of the leading candidates to replace Molcho.

AFP contributed to this report.