|Photo by: Ariel Hermoni, Defense Ministry|
Ehud Barak announces he is quitting political life
By LAHAV HARKOV
Defense minister will remain in position until new government is formed following elections.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced his resignation from political life on
Monday, saying his final decision was delayed by Operation Pillar of Defense and
hinting at the possibility of being appointed to his post again after the
“Fifty-three years ago, I enlisted in the IDF, and
since then I have served the country,” Barak said at a press conference at the
Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv.
“Today I announce my decision to leave
political life and not run in the next election.”
Barak will remain
defense minister until the next government is formed in January, after a total
of seven-and-a-half non-consecutive years in the post under three governments,
including one he led as prime minister.
This is the second time Barak is
resigning from politics. The first followed his loss of the premiership to Ariel
Sharon in 2001. In 2002, Barak went into business, becoming a multi-millionaire,
and returned to politics five years later as defense minister under then-prime
minister Ehud Olmert.
“I made the decision with great difficulty,” Barak
said. “I want to spend more time with my family, and I feel I did all I could in
politics. I was never passionate about politics, and turnover in positions of
power is a good thing. There are many ways to contribute to the country, not
Barak added that he debated his political future for
several weeks, but that the recent operation in the Gaza Strip delayed his
“In the next three months, I will continue to deal with every
challenge, and I promise there will be many challenges,” he said, not specifying
what they may be.
The defense minister hinted at the possibility that
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu could reappoint him to his post after the
January 22 election, saying that “as long as my advice is requested and
considered, I will be available to senior officials in every issue.”
asked directly by reporters if Netanyahu plans to make him defense minister
again, Barak said: “I will know after January 22.”
Speaking at the press
conference, Barak listed his accomplishments as defense minister in recent
years, including preparing to deal with the Iranian threat, pushing ahead the
Iron Dome and other missile defense systems and deepening military and
diplomatic relations with the US.
In what was seen as a dig at former IDF
chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, Barak said that he is “proud that in the last
year-anda- half, the IDF returned to a spirit and level of clean behavior, quiet
and humility, which were damaged in the past. We brought the IDF ethical code
back to life, and led the IDF to understand it is subordinate to the government.
Barak thanked IDF commanders, Defense Ministry staff and intelligence agencies,
as well as Netanyahu and the rest of the ministers.
Barak broke off from
Labor to found the Independence Party in early 2011. Recent, post-Operation
Pillar of Defense polls showed the party passing the election threshold with
three or four seats.
The remaining members of Independence – Industry,
Trade and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon, Agriculture Minister Orit Noked and MKs
Einat Wilf and Shakib Shanan – met in the Defense Ministry following Barak’s
announcement and decided Simhon will lead political negotiations.
said “all options are open,” meaning they could run as an independent party or