Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak quits politics

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has announced he is quitting politics and will not stand in January’s elections.

The former prime minister said he was “exhausted” after decades as a senior official and wanted to spend more time with his family.

The 70-year-old will stay in his post at the defence ministry until the new government is formed after the election.

In a press conference on Monday morning Mr Barak said: "I want to dedicate more time to my family. I feel I have exhausted dealing with political life, which has never been a passion of mine, and I feel there is room to allow other people to serve in senior roles in Israel."

It had been rumoured that Mr Barak would form a new centre-left party with former opposition leader Tzipi Livni.

Mr Barak had a long and distinguished military career before entering politics. He served in an elite IDF unit and masterminded a number of commando raids.

He became prime minister in 1999, but lost the 2001 election to Ariel Sharon. Mr Barak returned as defence minister under Ehud Olmert in 2007 after regaining the leadership of the Labour Party.

Last updated: 10:06am, November 26 2012