Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday announced that his newly-formed Independence Party will not be running in the upcoming general election, and that he is retiring from politics.
Barak said at a press conference in Tel Aviv that he had been considering making such an announcement for some time, but that the recent Gaza war postponed the event.
Barak will continue on as defense minister until after the election and the formation of a new government.
Ehud Barak is the most decorated soldier in the modern State of Israel's short history. He took part in numerous battles, and a number of daring commando raids, many of them at the side of Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's current prime minister.
Referencing Barak's martial history, Shelley Yachimovich, the current leader of Labor, wished Barak well on his new life outside politics:
"Ehud Barak is the most decorated soldier in the world, one of the most highly regarded [in the realm of] international security and a man who contributed to the army and state security more than the public will ever know."
Naftali Bennett, new head of the right-wing Jewish Home Party, offered similar praise:
"Ehud Barak is a man of many merits and amazing contributions to the state. Many of us owe our lives to him."
Of course, it was not all positive. Many saw Barak as a shrewd and egotistical political rival, and welcomed his departure. Many on the right also blamed Barak personally for stunting the growth of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria in recent years.