Israeli Defense Minister Barak says He's Quitting Politics
His resignation comes after a lethal conflict with Hamas in Gaza
CNN Wire Staff
November 26, 2012(CNN) -- 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 in Gaza with the militant Palestinian group Hamas after an eight-day conflict that killed more than 160 people, the overwhelming majority of them Palestinians.
Barak, who is married and the father of three children, said Monday at a news conference in Tel Aviv that he will continue as defense minister for the next three months before elections due in January. He said he won't contest the elections.
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.
But Barak told reporters that he felt it was important that other people take up key positions in Israel.
Barak served as defense minister under former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert between 2007 and 2009, and retained the post under Netanyahu from 2009 until the present. He also held the title of deputy prime minister for both administrations.
He had previously served as prime minister between July 1999 and March 2001, when he was defeated in an election by Ariel Sharon. From 2001 until his return to politics in 2005, Barak worked in the private sector.
CNN's Michael Schwartz contributed to this report.
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