Tel Aviv: Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak Monday announced he was leaving politics and would not run in the January general elections.
Barak, 70, leads the Atzmaut (Independence), a small political party that is unlikely to win any seats in the next Knesset, the Israeli parliament.
"I have decided to retire from political life and not to run for the next Knesset ... I will end my term as defence minister once the next government is established, in about three months," Barak told a news conference in Jerusalem.
The minister said he wanted to spend more time with his family and take up writing.
Barak, a former prime minister and the defence minister since 2007, said he would keep his current post until a new government is formed following the Jan 22 election.
Barak's surprise announcement comes despite strong favourability ratings in the wake of Israel's recent offensive in the Gaza Strip that ended in a ceasefire last week.
Barak, whose career in Israel's military and political establishment spans over five decades, is known as key moderator of Israel's strategic partnership with the US and a staunch proponent of tough policies toward Iran in the effort to stop Tehran's controversial nuclear programme.