Veteran Likud MK Yuval Steinitz announces retirement from politics

Likud MK Yuval Steinitz has been in the Knesset since 1999. His wife, Gila Kanfei-Steinitz was appointed to the Supreme Court in February, which the Likud has heavily criticized.

 Minister Yuval Steinitz arrives to the weekly government meeting at the Prime Ministers office in Jerusalem, on December 31, 2017.  (photo credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)
Minister Yuval Steinitz arrives to the weekly government meeting at the Prime Ministers office in Jerusalem, on December 31, 2017.
(photo credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)

Former minister and veteran Likud MK Yuval Steinitz announced on Tuesday that he was retiring from politics and will not run in the upcoming Likud primaries.

Why leave now?

Last year, when Likud fell out of the coalition and Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid’s government took office, Steinitz began considering his political future.

His wife, Gila Kanfei-Steinitz, was appointed to the Supreme Court in February, the first female judge of Sephardi descent.

The Likud has been vocal lately in its criticism of the Supreme Court and is pushing for reforms that would weaken the court’s ability to overturn laws the justices deem are undemocratic.

What has he done in the Knesset?

One of the longest-serving MKs, Steinitz has been in the Knesset since 1999. He served as minister of agriculture and energy and chaired the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

 Then prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen with Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources Yuval Shteinitz (L) during a plenum session in the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament on March 7, 2016. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) Then prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen with Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources Yuval Shteinitz (L) during a plenum session in the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament on March 7, 2016. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

“After 23 years as an MK, it is time for me and my family to breathe some fresh air,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “I want to thank all Likud members and all of Israel for the privilege I had to serve the country and help it thrive. I hope that the upcoming elections bring an end to the political chaos that has been going on, and allow for a national government headed by Netanyahu.”

Political reactions

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu praised Steinitz. He particularly mentioned his help as energy minister in pushing through the necessary government regulations to allow the extraction of natural gas from Israeli economic waters.

“Our joint efforts in taking the gas out of the water, against all the populist pressures, brought millions of shekels to Israeli citizens, in education, welfare, health and infrastructure,” Netanyahu said.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked tweeted, “Yuval Steinitz is one of the best, most honest people in the Israel political sphere. He advanced the state in many ways, some of which are not even known to the public. He is a dear friend who always handled himself with respect.”

New Hope MK Yoaz Hendel tweeted, “Yuval is a symbol of seriousness and directness in politics, something that is absolutely necessary in politics, despite what it may seem like today.”

Alternate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett wrote on Twitter that he was sorry to see Steinitz go. “The Israeli public is losing an honest, brave and skilled man,” he said.