Ehud Barak announces he is quitting political life

Defense minister will remain in position until new government is formed following elections.

Barak resigns 370 (photo credit: Ariel Hermoni, Defense Ministry)
Barak resigns 370
(photo credit: Ariel Hermoni, Defense Ministry)
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 January election.
“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 just politics.”
Barak added that he debated his political future for several weeks, but that the recent operation in the Gaza Strip delayed his decision.
“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.”
When asked directly by reporters if Netanyahu plans to make him defense minister again, Barak said: “I will know after January 22.”
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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.
They said “all options are open,” meaning they could run as an independent party or join another.