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Israel's Ehud Barak To Quit Political Life

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak waves as he leaves a news conference in Tel Aviv on November 26.
In a surprise move, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has announced that he is retiring from political life.

He said he would remain as defense chief until after January's elections.

The announcement follows less than a week after a cease-fire went into effect that ended eight days of fighting with Palestinian militants in Gaza.

At a news conference in Jerusalem on November 26, the 70-year-old veteran soldier and politician said he wanted to spend more time with his family.

He has been defense minister since 2007 and served as prime minister from 1999 to 2001.

Opinion polls had predicted a poor showing for Barak's Atzmaut (Independence) party in elections set for January 22, 2013, but voter support strengthened after the Gaza offensive.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, and dpa