"After 10 years of serving as an elected official, including seven years in the Knesset and government, I have informed Avigdor Lieberman, chairman of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, that I will not be running in the Knesset elections," he said in a statement.
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"I look with pride and satisfaction at my achievements as tourism minister and chairman of the finance committee," Misezhnikov said and noted the record tourism in the past three years and its positive effect on Israel's economy.
He also claimed credit for the restoration and development of the Dead Sea as one of the Israel's top tourist sites and leading the recently-approved reform to lowering vacation costs by 20%.
Misezhnikov. Bogged down by misconduct claims (Photo: Amir Levy)
"I intend to continue to contribute to the Israeli economy in other central capacities. I am not retiring from public life and business activity," he emphasized.
Misezhnikov denied reports that he was forced out of the party by Lieberman and used a meeting with US Jewish leaders to lay out his vision for the next government. "I hope the next government will be a secular government without the black politics of the haredi parties."
He further added, "I think it's time to end the Chief Rabbinate's monopoly on kashrut matters in Israeli hotels and in general. We must allow a free market of kashrut practitioners and of different Jewish factions."
Misezhnikov's reputation was marred last September when Channel 2 aired an exposé revealing details of his alleged misconduct.
According to a report by Amit Segal, Misezhnikov made it a habit to dodge his security detail in favor of mysterious nightly excursions; placing himself at risk.
The minister also allegedly spends considerable time in night clubs – sometimes strip clubs – and ends his nightly adventures drunk to the point of complete disorientation.
Misezhnikov strongly denied the report saying "I have nothing to be ashamed of."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the time, "The report was disturbing. We've heard the minister's response; we must wait until everything is clarified."
Moran Azulay is a Ynet and Yedioth Ahronoth correspondent
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