Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer
Minister Binyamin Ben-EliezerFlash 90

MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer on Thursday said he would resign from the Knesset. Ben-Eliezer, a Labor Party member who served as an MK and Minister in numerous governments, wrote to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein that “after a long decision making process and a difficult struggle with my thoughts on the matter, I have decided to resign from my Knesset post. As you know, I have been suffering from health problems in recent years,” he wrote, adding that he was a candidate for a kidney transplant.

Ben-Eliezer, 78, is a former top IDF commander and has been active in Israeli political life since 1984. In 1992, he was appointed Minister of Housing and Construction in Yitzhak Rabin's government, and was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Communications in Ehud Barak's government in 1999.

After Ariel Sharon's victory in the special election for Prime Minister in 2001, Ben-Eliezer was appointed Minister of Defense in the national unity government, and served as Labor Party leader following Barak's resignation until Amram Mitzna was elected in 2002. He left the post on 2 October 2002 when Labor withdrew from the coalition. In 2005, he returned to government service as Minister of National Infrastructures, and was again appointed to that post in 2008 under Ehud Olmert.

Ben-Eliezer has suffered from numerous health problems in recent years, including pneumonia and kidney problems. “Dealing with my health issues requires most of my attention now, and unfortunately I cannot work as I have been used to doing,” he wrote in his letter to Edelstein. “I have decided therefore to leave my post in order to deal with these health issues.”

Edelstein said that he appreciated Ben-Eliezer's candor and sincerity. “You have contributed a great deal to Israel in your 60 years of service in the army and political life,” Edelstrein responded to Ben-Eliezer's letter. “I appreciate your efforts and wish you good health.”

Taking Ben-Eliezer's place in the lame duck Knesset – which has already dispersed itself in preparation for the 2015 elections – is Gilboa Regional Council head Danny Atar. Because of the dispersal, it is likely that Atar will not be officially sworn in, unless the plenum reconvenes for a special session before the elections.