Minister of Defense Ehud Barak, 70, is leaving politics. At a press conference this morning, he said, "53 years ago, I was drafted into the IDF, and since then, I have served the State of Israel in the best way possible. I have decided to retire from political life and I will not run in the upcoming Knesset elections."
Just as when Barak split the Labor Party last year, this time, too, he kept his intentions a close secret. None of his aides had an inkling of his plans. For weeks, there have been rumors about talks with former Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni to join her in a new political party. The two met in New York to discuss this.
Barak added, "On a practical note, I will leave my post in three months." He went on to mention his achievements as defense minister, dealing with the Iranian threat, and the development of the Iron Dome anti-missile system.
Barak said, "My decision to retire is because I want to devote more time to my family. I have fulfilled my work in politics, which was never my passion, and I think that new people should be allowed to take leadership positions in Israel. Changes in positions of power are a good thing. Whenever my advice is sought, I will provide it to the prime minister."
Barak said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knew of his decision.
Barak said that he deliberated over his decision for several weeks, adding that he had postponed the decision because of the military operation in Gaza. Asked if he would accept the post of defense minister without a political affiliation, he said, "These things have not been asked nor discussed, and I see no reason to mention them now."
Labor Party chairwoman MK Shelly Yachimovich expressed regret at Barak's retirement. In a statement, she said, "Barak, the most decorated soldier in the world, and one of the key defense figures in the international arena, contributed more to the IDF and Israel's defense than what the public has ever known. He brought his great experience to the Ministry of Defense, which he led with discretion and professionalism."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 26, 2012
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