Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Israel's Ehud Barak Announces Plans To Quit Politics


Ehud Barak, 70, Israel's defence minister, announced plans to quit politics after the January 22nd elections. An article from Reuters by Jeffrey Heller and published in The National Post says:
Israel’s Defence Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday he was quitting politics, a surprise decision that deepens uncertainty over how Israel will confront Iran’s nuclear program. Barak’s political fortunes appeared to be on the rise after Israel’s eight-day Gaza offensive ended in a truce, but polls predicted his centrist party, a junior partner in right-winger Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, would win no more than four seats in Israel’s 120-member parliament in a January 22 election.
A former head of the centre-left Labour Party, Barak has insisted he and Netanyahu have been united on policy toward Iran, an issue that has often put the prime minister at odds with U.S. President Barack Obama.
But as the only centrist member of the governing coalition of right-wing and pro-settler parties, Barak has frequently visited Washington for talks with top U.S. officials and had criticized Netanyahu for airing differences with the United States.
At a hastily called news conference, he said he would not be a candidate in the national ballot that Netanyahu’s Likud party is forecast to win. He said he would remain in his post until a new government was formed in about three months’ time, signaling his decision would have no immediate effect on Israel’s calculations on how best to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
“The Iranian issue remains very important, even after I leave my position in three months. It will remain a central issue on the agenda,” said Barak, who was often seen as a moderating force in considering possible military action against Iran. The 70-year-old ex-general said he wanted to spend more time with his family. Politics, he said, “has never been a particular passion of mine, and I feel there is room to allow other people to serve in senior roles in Israel.”
All kinds of commentators, both in Israel and abroad, will now raise speculations on why Mr. Barak decided at this time to make his announcement. It's true that his views are currently more moderate than that of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and that of the nation he has served. It might have been in the works for a while, and only delayed by the recent war-time offensive between Israel and Hamas. We wish Mr. Ehud Barak well in his retirement from politics; he has served admirably as Israel's defence minister, notably on the Iran File, and formerly as a military leader.

You can read the rest of the article at [National Post].