In a surprise announcement on Monday, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said he's quitting politics and won't run in the January 22 national election.
A main architect of Israel's policy towards Iran's nuclear programme, Barak said he wants to dedicate more time to his family and says he's had enough of political life.
(SOUNDBITE) (Hebrew) ISRAELI DEFENCE MINISTER EHUD BARAK SAYING:
"Today I stand before you to share my decision to resign from political life and not to run in the coming election for Knesset. It was a decision taken not without difficulties but eventually whole-heartedly."
Opinion polls had predicted a poor showing for the small Independence Party that Barak currently leads, but recently indicated voter support had strengthened as a result of Israel's eight-day offensive in Gaza that ended in a ceasefire last Wednesday.
The 70-year-old has been a key player in Israel's tough policy towards Iran's nuclear ambitions and a point man in the Jewish State's strategic relations with the United States.
He has been defence minister since 2007 and served as prime minister from 1999 to 2001.
Israel's Ehud Barak quits politics (1:12)
Nov. 26 - Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak makes a surprise announcement leaving political life. Travis Brecher reports. ( Transcript )