Israel's Barak to leave politics
The Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak has announced that he is leaving politics following general elections in January.
Mr Barak, who is also a former prime minister, said he will stay on in his current post until after a new government is formed following the January 22nd elections.
Mr Barak, who was considered the main architect of Israel's policy toward Iran's nuclear programme, made the announcement today at an abruptly called news conference.
"I have decided to retire from political life and not to run for the next Knesset ... I will end my term as defence minister once the next government is established, in about three months," he told journalists.
"I want to dedicate more time to my family. I feel I have exhausted dealing with political life, which has never been a passion of mine, and I feel there is room to allow other people to serve in senior roles in Israel," he said.
Opinion polls had predicted a poor showing for the small party that Barak currently leads, Atzmaut, but recently indicated voter support had strengthened as a result of Israel's eight-day offensive in the Gaza Strip that ended in a ceasefire last Wednesday.
He has been defence minister since 2007 and served as prime minister from 1999 to 2001.