Ehud Barak Quits Politics, Leaves Door Open for Comeback

November 26, 2012 9:01 pm 0 comments

Ehud Barak. Photo: Barak Weizmann/Wikimedia Commons.

At a dramatic press conference on Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced his surprising resignation from politics after nearly 50 years in service of the country.

“I have decided to resign from politics and I will not be running in the [upcoming] elections,” Barak told reporters at his office in the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv. “I enlisted to the IDF in 1959 and I served the people of Israel for 47 years as well as I could.”

The former prime minister reassured reporters that he would remain in his post until the establishment of the next government, following the Jan. 22 elections, and then “will free up time to focus on my family.”

“I have exhausted my contribution to politics, which I was never entirely passionate about, and I feel that I must make way for others to man senior political positions. Turnover in positions of power is a good thing,” Barak said, explaining the decision that took most Israelis by surprise.

While he took the time to dispel speculations suggesting that he would join up with other parties, insisting that he would not run in the election, Barak left the door open for a comeback by not saying explicitly that he would not return to politics. He said he was “at peace” with his decision, but that it did not come “without its misgivings.”

“Thus I complete seven and a half years in the Defense Ministry, spanning three governments, one of them under my own leadership,” he said.

Barak said he “led a systematic rehabilitation, bolstering the long arm and dealing with the Iranian threat, pushing Iron Dome and the other anti-missile interceptors and ensuring a deep diplomatic and military cooperation with the Americans.”

“I want to thank from the bottom of my heart the IDF commanders, both in compulsory service and career soldiers, the people of the Defense Ministry and the members of the intelligence community, who allowed me to fulfill my duties as defense minister successfully. I am proud to have led such wonderful people. I want to thank the prime minister and my colleagues in the government, as well as my devoted friends in the Independence Party leadership, who gave me a lot of strength for many years and for long hours,” Barak added.

The political echelon did not waste a second before issuing responses to Barak’s dramatic announcement, with Labor Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich expressing her sorrow over Barak’s resignation even before the press conference ended.

“Barak is the world’s most decorated soldier, and one of the most highly regarded defense figures in the international community. He contributed to the IDF and to the security of the country more than the public will ever know,” Yachimovich said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also voiced his appreciation for the outgoing minister, saying, “I thank him for his cooperation and I very much appreciate his longtime contribution to the security of the state.”

But not all the responses were sympathetic. MK Danny Danon (Likud) issued a statement shortly after the announcement, declaring, “Thank God we are rid of this nuisance.”

“After Barak realized that he could not secure a seat on the Likud list he understood his irrelevance in the political arena and decided to initiate his resignation, instead of the people forcing it upon him,” Danon said in a statement.

Likud minister Yuli Edelstein echoed his colleague’s sentiments, saying, “Today is a day of independence for Likud.”

“Barak will go down in the annals of Israel’s governments as the worst defense minister in the history of the Jewish settlement enterprise. His conduct was rife with egotistical and political considerations, all at the expense of the Jewish settlers,” said Edelstein. “I wouldn’t be surprised if, at the first opportunity, he will find a reason to return to politics and to his evil ways.”

The Strong Israel faction, headed by rightists Aryeh Eldad and Michael Ben-Ari, also issued a celebratory response, adding that “now Netanyahu and [Foreign Minister Avigdor] Lieberman will be able to approve all the construction plans for Judea and Samaria that had gotten bogged down on Barak’s desk. Or, alternately, it may emerge that Barak was only a fig leaf and that it was the prime minister himself who was responsible for the mistreatment of the settlers.”

On the other side of the political spectrum, Israel’s Left was no less critical of the resigning minister. “Barak played a dual role in the political system,” said Meretz Chairwoman Zahava Gal-On. “I commended him as the one who normally blocked extreme policies, but sometimes he was the one who spearheaded extreme moves and pushed them forward.”

“There is something symbolic about the fact that Barak, the man who invented the ‘no partner’ spin, the man who disappointed and failed to sign a peace agreement with the Palestinians, who didn’t end the occupation the way we expected him to, is resigning precisely in the same week his ‘partner’ [Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas extends a hand to peace with Israel and seeks recognition of the PA as a state. Now Barak is gone, just when he gets a chance to rectify the historic damage he caused,” Gal-On said.

Hadash Chairman Dov Khenin said, “Ehud Barak was the pillar that made possible the existence of the most extreme rightist government in Israel’s history. He will never be able to absolve himself of this historic responsibility. Barak’s political maneuvering cannot mask his culpability for the four difficult years of frozen diplomacy, the damage he caused to the possibility of peace with the Palestinians and the general economic and social deterioration.”

The news even elicited a response from Gaza. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that Barak’s resignation was yet another victory for the Gaza terror organizations, Israel Radio reported. He explained that the resignation was proof that Israel’s recent Gaza Strip offensive, which Barak led, had been a failure.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot is in negotiations to take on the female lead role in the remake of the 1959 classic Ben-Hur, according to The Hollywood Reporter. If the deal is finalized Gadot will play Esther, a slave and Ben-Hur’s love interest. Actor Jack Huston will star as the Jewish prince who is betrayed into slavery by his childhood friend Messala, played by Toby Kebbell. Ben-Hur fights for his freedom and vengeance with the help of Morgan Freeman’s character, who trains Ben-Hur how to win at chariot-racing. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    JNS.org – Baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie are the American dream. So why do two young men who have built their lives in Israel have a GoFundMe crowd-funding webpage with the urgent message that they need $3,000 to travel to the U.S. to watch the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles square off for Major League Baseball’s (MLB) American League championship? Brothers Naftali and Yoni Schwartz, 27 and 25, respectively, are Kansas City natives. Even though they made aliyah with their [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Some 3,000 years ago, King David probably never imagined cars racing at 240 kilometers per hour (150 miles per hour) through the ancient capital of the Jewish people. But on Monday and Tuesday, October 6-7, thousands of Israelis lined the streets to watch Porsche, Audi, and Ferrari race cars fly through the capital against the backdrop of the Tower of David, the Old City Walls, and other city landmarks. The second annual non-competitive Jerusalem Formula One Road Show had been [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James expressed interest in visiting Israel someday, local news site Cleveland.com reported on Sunday. Speaking to Israeli reporters before the Cleveland Cavaliers’ preseason debut against Maccabi Tel Aviv, the NBA star said he had never visited the Jewish state but “I want to look forward to going there if I get an opportunity to.” When asked by an Israeli reporter if there was “any chance that LeBron James and Cleveland comes to Tel Aviv,” the athlete said [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    A Florida-based Chabad rabbi put former basketball star, U.S. Congressman Curt Clawson to shame on the court when the two faced off one-on-one recently. A YouTube video, posted online on Tuesday, shows Rabbi Fishel Zaklos of Chabad of Naples shooting hoops with the Florida politician, who played basketball in high school and at Purdue University in Indiana. The game took place in the parking lot of the Chabad Jewish center run by Zaklos. During the 1-minute clip, Zaklos scores two impressive [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada David Blatt’s Cleveland Cavaliers Rout Maccabi Tel Aviv, 107-80

    David Blatt’s Cleveland Cavaliers Rout Maccabi Tel Aviv, 107-80

    JNS.org – Less than five months after leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to its sixth European basketball title, David Blatt, now the head coach of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, routed his former team in an exhibition game on Sunday, with the Cavaliers dominating Maccabi 107-80 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The 20,562 fans in attendance witnessed Lebron James’s first appearance in a Cavaliers uniform since he left the club in free agency for the Miami Heat four years ago. [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Jewish New York Giants Guard Plans to Fast on Yom Kippur

    Jewish New York Giants Guard Plans to Fast on Yom Kippur

    New York Giants offensive guard Geoff Schwartz said on Wednesday that he will not eat anything between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday in observation of Yom Kippur, ESPN reported. “If I was playing, I wouldn’t fast, because I’ve got to be able to fuel myself to play,” said the Jewish athlete, who is on short-term leave due to a toe injury. “But it’s not that tough, really. I’ll eat dinner at 5:00 Friday, then I’ll go to services and I’ll just [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    JNS.org – What would you do if you found out that you had only three more months to live? Gordon Zacks was a successful businessman, a leader of Jewish life, and a confidante and adviser to President George H.W. Bush. He knew that he had prostate cancer, but doctors advised him that it was very slow-growing and nothing to worry about. Then came the day when the doctors told him his cancer metastasized to his liver, and that he had [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.