Israel's Barak to step down
Published Monday, November 26, 2012
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced his resignation from political life on Monday, after rumors spread that would leave the Likud party to form an alliance with Kadima leader Tzipi Livini.
Barak told reporters that he would not be running for office in Israel's January elections.
Barak, who is also a former prime minister, said he will continue with his current post until a new government is formed following the January 22 balloting.
He made the announcement even after polls showed his party gain momentum after Israel's recent assault on Gaza.
Barak and far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu worked closely for most of the past four years, but reportedly had a falling out over whether to defer to the United States on any attack against Iranian nuclear facilities.
Barak's detractors in Netanyahu's Likud Party wanted him replaced.
Meanwhile Monday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas headed to the UN’s headquarters in New York to seek non-state membership at the world body, in spite of Israeli and US pressure to abandon the efforts.
Abbas has said that he expects a clear majority vote for the bid at the UN General Assembly on November 29.
The bid will allow Palestinians to submit Israeli criminal offenses to the International Criminal Court. It will also allow Palestine to join several UN organizations and further crystallize a process to secure borders in the future, as part of a two-state solution.
As a non-member state, Palestinians cannot vote in the General Assembly or participate in the Security Council.
Israeli officials claim the bid is a Palestinian effort to bypass negotiations.
Israel, however, has exploited the periods of negotiations and 'halted talks' to violently pursue illegal expansion and further occupation.
Hamas chief Khaled Meshal offered Abbas his support Monday. The Islamist group had previously opposed the UN bid, describing it as a publicity stunt, but new efforts at reconciliation between the Palestinian factions appear to have changed Hamas’ position on the issue.
Israel’s apartheid rule across the Occupied Territories has left Palestinian factions with only marginal authority.