Former Education Minister and National Religious Party Head MK Yitzhak Levy announced Wednesday he would be retiring from politics after 20 years as a Knesset member.
Levy, 61, who was instrumental in the recent forming of the new right-wing party The Jewish Home, said his decision stemmed from the party's decision not to hold the traditional primaries for its Knesset roster, opting instead to form a special website which would allow party members to vote on the list.
The decision, said Levy, has caused the party's supporters to lose faith in it: "I've always believed in the public's participation in choosing the leadership. I have always supported holding primaries in the NRP and that was my condition for joining The Jewish Home," he told Ynet.
"We ended up compromising on holding primaries for party chairman, but once those were scrapped, I realized I didn’t belong there.
"The parting of the ways was amicable. I wish the party success," he said, "it's very important that religious Zionism have a home, even if I myself am not there."
Levy added that he does intend on remaining publicly active, focusing on educational and social issues.
'Positive 20-year career'
Summing up his 20-year-long political career, Levy said that "in this long period of time I served in many important roles and the most important of them all was that of education minister.
"As a member of the cabinet at the time, I was fortunate to have an influence," he recalled, "and I'm mostly proud of my work with the children's advocacy lobby, which later became a committee (the Knesset's Committee on Rights of the Child).
"I've also spent a lot of time on trying to push the issue of the constitution and was a part of forming some of our Basic Laws. I also strived to bolster Jewish values. These 20 years have been mostly positives, and they've had their ups and down, but of course, everything must come to an end."
An IDF major (Ret.) and an ordained rabbi, Levy became the NRP's secretary general in the 1980's, and was first elected to the Knesset in 1988 and served as the transportation minister under Benjamin Netanyahu in 1996 and in 1998 was named education minister.
In 2000, Levy lost his daughter, Ayelet Hashachar, in a terror attack in Jerusalem.