“Today I announce my decision to leave political life and not run in the next election.” Barak will remain Defense Minister until the next government is formed in January, after a total of seven-and-a-half nonconsecutive years in the post under three governments, including one led by Barak as prime minister.

This is the second time Barak is resigning from politics. The first followed his loss of the premiership to Ariel Sharon in 2001. In 2002, Barak went into business, becoming a multi-millionaire, and returned to politics five years later as defense minister under then-prime minister Ehud Olmert.

“I made the decision with great difficulty,” Barak said. “I want to spend more time with my family, and feels I did all I could in politics I was never passionate about politics, and turnover in positions of power is a good thing. There are many ways to contribute to the country, not just politics.” Barak added that he debated his political future for several weeks, but that the recent operation in the Gaza Strip delayed his decision.