Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak waves as he leaves after a news conference in Tel Aviv November 26, 2012 (Reuters / Nir Elias)
Israel’s Defence Minister Ehud Barak waves as he leaves after a news conference in Tel Aviv November 26, 2012 (Reuters / Nir Elias)

Hawkish Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has announced that he will retire from politics after the next election. The news comes as surveys suggested his party was headed for defeat in the upcoming parliamentary polls.

Barak, a former prime minister of Israel, enjoyed a surge in popularity following Operation Pillar of Defense earlier this month. But opinion polls showed that his Independence Party is unlikely to win more than three seats in Israel’s upcoming parliamentary elections. Barak’s faction, which currently holds five seats in the Knesset, splintered from the Labour Party in 2011.

In a surprise press conference on Monday, Barak, 70, said he would not run in the January 22 election. He thanked his supporters and the Israeli government, and pledged to serve the country as an advisor and private citizen next year.

“There are many ways to contribute to the state, politics isn’t the only one,” Barak said.

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