Single-minded in military and politics alike

Chequered career … Ehud Barak announces on Monday he is leaving political life. Photo: AFP

Single-minded in military and politics alike

By Ian Black ~ Thanks to The Sunday Morning Herald

Thanks to The Sunday Morning Herald

Ehud Barak’s decision to quit politics means the departure of a man who has been at the heart of Israel’s military establishment for more than half a century, either taking part in person or masterminding many of its controversial exploits – including this month’s assault on the Gaza Strip.

Barak announced on Monday he would retire from party politics at the election in January. But the former prime minister kept open the possibility of retaining the defence portfolio if the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is reelected and reappoints him to the cabinet as an individual not a party leader in the governing coalition.

He once described Israel as “a villa in the jungle”.

Barak said he would not run in the election and wanted to spend more time with his family.

‘There are many ways to contribute to the state, politics isn’t the only one,’’ he said. ‘‘My decision to retire stems from my desire to devote that time to my family, and also because I have never felt that politics was the height of my ambition. I made the decision not without qualms but ultimately with a whole heart.’’

Barak, 70, has never rated in the popularity stakes in Israel – one commentator called him “the man everyone loves to hate” – but he has always been known for his cerebral qualities as well as his long experience of fighting Arabs. He once described Israel as “a villa in the jungle”.

Some observers say he has exercised a restraining influence on Netanyahu, but he has been no less hawkish than his boss on the question of whether Israel should attack Iran’s nuclear program….

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