The end of an era: Former Meretz head
and a prominent leader of the left-wing camp, Knesset Member Yossi Beilin, announced that he will not be seeking a spot on his party's Knesset roster in the upcoming elections.
Dr. Beilin informed Meretz Chairman Chaim Oron of his decision on Tuesday evening. The move marks the end of the veteran statesman's political career.
Beilin apparently intends to enter private practice, but was reluctant to elaborate on its nature or the circumstances surrounding his decision to retire from political life. His aides told Ynet that he "will remain a public figure and will keep pursuing his political initiatives, most of all the Geneva Initiative."
Yossi Beilin began his political career in 1977, as Labor's spokesman.
He was later named cabinet secretary the political director of the Foreign Ministry.
Considered Shimon Peres' protégé,
he was elected to the Knesset for the first time in 1988. He went on serve as a deputy minister, and was elected MK for four consecutive terms. He resigned from the Knesset in 1999. In 2004, he turned left of Labor, and joined Meretz.
Beilin announcement spells yet another end for Meretz, and may be seen as a possible indicator for the troublesome times ahead of the party, which has suffered declining support by the voting public – from 12 mandates in the 1992 general elections to five in the current Knesset.
"I was saddened by Beilin's decision, of which he told several days ago,' said Oron.
"Yossi Beilin is one of the most important political leaders we have ever known. He shaped a political road supported by the majority of Israeli today. I can only hope that his daring and original way will keep serving Israel and
Meretz for years to come."
MK Effie Eitam (National Union-National Religious Party) added that "Beilin has always been a fair and worthy political adversary, who loves the people and the country in his own way.
"As we served together on the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, I was privileged to know a person of principles. His retirement from politics should upset every Israeli citizen, regardless of their political affiliation," he said.
Amnon Meranda contributed to this report