Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced his resignation Monday, saying he will quit politics in January to spend more time with his family.
His resignation comes at a highly delicate time for Israel, which is observing a fragile cease-fire with the militant Palestinian group Hamas after an eight-day conflict that killed more than 160 people — the overwhelming majority of them Palestinians in Gaza.
He said Monday at a news conference in Tel Aviv that he will continue as defense minister for the next three months, as elections are due in January. He said he won’t contest the elections.
Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, weighed in on the announcement.
"I hope this signals recognition of the futility of the military approach in the adoption of violence as means of dealing with the Palestinians," she said.
"If it is for personal reasons, we cannot comment, but if it’s recognition that his whole career was based on the military approach to political life, then this demonstrates the recognition of the futility of militarism and violence."
Some Israeli political commentators had speculated ahead of the announcement that Barak was planning to quit the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form a new center-left party.