Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak quits political life
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Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak quits political life

Tel Aviv : Israel | Nov 26, 2012 at 9:39 AM PST
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Barak quits political life; to remain as defense minister until after election

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has officially resigned, announcing that he is leaving political life. He did so at a news conference this morning at the defense ministry in Tel Aviv.

"I have decided to resign from political life and not participate in the upcoming Knesset elections," he said. "I will finish my duties when the formation of the new government takes office after general elections on Jan. 22."

Barak, 70, added, “I have exhausted politics and I want to dedicate more time to my family.”

Barak’s decision comes after a tumultuous couple of years for the former chief of staff. In January 2011, he resigned from the Labor party, where he had spent his entire political life, to set up the so-called Independence Party, which he quickly led into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing government. At present, Barak is leading a small political party named Atzmaut.

Barak has been a key player in Israel's tough policy toward curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions and a point man in Israel's strategic relations with the United States. He has been defense minister since 2007, and he served as prime minister from 1999 to 2001.

Some Israeli political figures described Barak as “one of the most highly regarded security officials worldwide” and expressed regret at Barak's retirement.

The prime minister’s office sent out a tweet that said, “Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu respects defence Minister Barak's decision; thanks him for cooperation in government and appreciates his contribution to security of state.”

A Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip, Fawzi Barhoum, said that Barak's departure comes in the wake of the latest conflict between Israel and Palestinian armed resistance in Gaza. It is another victory for the Palestinian resistance groups in Gaza, and proof of the failure of the occupation in the just-completed Israeli military campaign.

Earlier on Sunday, Israeli air defense announced the successful testing of a new missile defense system. The Israel Missile Defense Organization and the US Missile Defense Agency completed the first phase of development of the David’s Sling weapon system, conducting a successful interception. The defense ministry said the system is designed to intercept medium- to long-range missiles fired from 40 kilometers to 300 kilometers away.

A source in Israel's defense industries said the new system is used to defend Israel’s border against oncoming missiles from the Gaza Strip, as well as longer-range missiles from Lebanon's Hezbollah and from Syria.

Also known as Magic Wand, the David's Sling system is being made by Israel's state-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and US firm Raytheon.

Opinion:

I think Barak's resignation carries only one meaning—that this man failed as a defense minister to protect his people, in particular after the Israeli ministry of defense claimed to have destroyed most of Gaza’s rockets, just when the Pillar of Defense operation started. But later, six rockets reached Tel Aviv and two reached Jerusalem. Not to mention the thousands of rockets that landed on southern Israel. This was, of course, very embarrassing to him as a defense minister and to Netanyahu as a prime minister.

I think that the resignation of Barak must be followed by the resignations of all members of the current government. The Israeli people realized that their government did not do anything during the recent war on Gaza, except kill women and children. The resistance is still not affected by any aggression. This obviously means that Israel's presence is threatened from the north, where Hezbollah is, and from the south, where the Palestinian resistance exists.

Israel, with the help of America, spends millions to develop its air defense. The funny part is that the Israeli missile made to intercept the Palestinian resistance missiles costs $30,000, while a rocket belonging to the resistance that reached 80 kilometers inside Israel costs just $500. From here, every wise person should think of a solution to the ongoing cycle of violence. The natural solution is that Israel withdraws from the territories it occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem, and leaves the area for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Otherwise, neither Palestinians nor Israelis will leave in peace.

There is still an opportunity existing for the Palestinian and the Israeli people to live in peace and security. But unfortunately the US president is still unaware that the shortest way is the straight line and that the Palestinian people have the same right to live as do all countries in the world. They also have the right to defend themselves and resist the occupation. Until the person who lives in the White House reaches this conviction, many Palestinians and Israelis will not enjoy happy life God granted to human beings.

Sources:

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4311733,00.html

http://www.60news.com/news-israel-s-barak-says-quitting-politics-157092/

http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/62261-israel-defense-minister-retires-in-pre-vote-shock

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Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in a surprise announcement on Monday that he was quitting politics and would not run in the January 22 national election.
saleh1966 is based in Gaza, Ġazzah, Palestine, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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