Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak talks to the media during a press-conference after a meeting with his Austrian counterpart Norbert Darabos (unseen) on December 14, 2009 in Vienna. This visit is the first-ever official one by an Israeli defence minister to the Alpine state. Barak will also meet president Heinz Fischer, chancellor Werner Faymann and foreign affairs minister Michael Spindelegger. Credit: AFP/Getty Images
In a surprise announcement Monday, Nov. 26, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the man credited with being a key engineer of the country's Iran-policy, said he was quitting politics after 47 years and would not run in the Jan. 22 national election. He pledged, however, to remain on in a defense-capacity until then.
"I have decided to retire from political life and not to run for the next Knesset ... I will end my term as defense minister once the next government is established, in about three months," he said at a news conference.
"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."
Barak once served as Israel's prime minister and offered then-PLO leader Yasser Arafat nearly all of his demands in exchange for peace but was refused outright. He is considered a formidable strategic mind and military asset in Israel. As Iran races towards producing a nuclear warhead, Barak’s decision to retire from political life signals, at least to the Israeli news site DEBKAFile, that the former PM can now spend his time leading the charge against a nuclear Iran, rather than be mired in electoral politics.
Responding to a reporter's question about Iran, the defense minister said it "is the most important and central issue on the agenda and it will occupy me until I retire in three months.” DEBKA offers a bit more background on Barak:
After a brief lackluster stint as Labor prime minister in 2000-2001, Ehud Barak served as defense minister in three governments spanning seven and-a-half years. He shepherded the Israeli armed forces’ recovery from the 2006 Lebanon War, helped cement and expand security ties with the United States and upgraded Israel’s munitions, notably promoting the development of the Iron Dome which distinguished itself in the recent operation which was triggered by Hamas’s missile blitz against the Israeli population.
Of course it is only a matter of time before Hamas launches long and short-range rockets into Israeli communities. In fact, the terrorist group has proudly admitted what those who support the Jewish State already know -- that it is taking the time afforded by the cease-fire to resupply and refuel for its next onslaught. If these tensions escalate within the next three months, which they are likely to do, Israeli general elections will be deferred and Barak would remain on as defense secretary until voting resumes.