hud Barak, Israel's defense minister and a former prime minister, announced Monday that he is stepping down after January elections. "I feel I have exhausted dealing with political life, which has never been a passion of mine, and I feel there is room to allow other people to serve in senior roles in Israel," he told reporters. Barak, a highly decorated former army chief of staff, led the opposition Labor Party until 2009, when it had a disastrous showing at the polls. He then joined the conservative Likud-led government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Barak's popularity was on the rise in Israel after the suspended offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
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