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      Barak to CNN: I Will Not Serve as Defense Minister Again

      Regardless of the coalition that is to be formed, Israelis have seen the last of Ehud Barak, at least for a while.
      By David Lev
      First Publish: 1/24/2013, 3:32 PM

      Defense Minister Ehud Barak
      Defense Minister Ehud Barak
      Flash 90

      Regardless of the coalition that is to be formed, Israelis have seen the last of Ehud Barak, at least for awhile. In an interview with CNN, Barak said that he would not be returning to the post of Defense Minister. “I have already told the public and the prime minister -- many people do not believe, but I don't see a reason for this -- that I'm not going to join,” Barak said. “I'm going to leave political life for at least the next five years."

      Of course, if duty calls, Barak is prepared to do what is necessary. “You never say never," he said regarding a possible appointment. "I cannot refuse to contemplate it.”

      Although the results of the elections – which Barak called “surprising” - indicated that Israelis were more interested in internal matters than relations with the Arab world, he said that making a deal with the Palestinian Authority still needed to be a top priority of the new government. “We have to find a way strengthen, to motivate part of the Palestinians, maybe [PA Prime Minister Salam] Fayyad, that want to help build a future empathy,” he said.

      Barak also counseled Netanyahu to include rightwing parties in his coalition. If you establish a right unity government, you create an effective platform to make ... decisions because you have wider support of your own party,” he added.