Interior Minister Gidon Sa'ar (Likud) will be leaving politics, he announced Wednesday, and will hand his resignation in after the holidays later this month.
First, however, he reflected somewhat on his political career.
"I'm going to address an unusual speech," Sa'ar stated, at the traditional 'toast for the New Year' at his Ramat Gan home. "I fell in love with the national idea at age 14. I remember the election of '81 with respect, [as it made me] captivated by the idea of nationalism and changed my view of the world."
Sa'ar thanked Likud for its support over the years.
"You were with me when we were 40 seats, and when I was Chairman of the Coalition, and when we were just 12 seats, and I was head of the party," he said. "The movement struggled over the years to return to the top and I saw many friends [participate] - some who helped and some who hindered."
"I had a big role in returning Likud to steering the ship," he added.
Sa'ar thanked Likud members, hundreds of whom were present at the event, for their support in achieving many goals for the party, including making Ariel University a public institution - a major step for establishing the city as the "capital of Samaria" and for concretizing the region's legitimacy.
He then stressed that while he "represented Likud's policies," he would be leaving politics entirely in a matter of weeks.
"In the past two years, against the backdrop of changes in my personal life, I have decided to take a break from public life," Sa'ar announced. "It is difficult for me to leave, and there is always a reason why not to do so."
The decision has been a long time in coming, he explained - for at least two years - but he decided not to damage Likud's chances in the 2012 Knesset elections.
Moreover, the decision has been a matter of loyalties, he said.
"I promised my good and loyal friend Reuven Rivlin that I would not leave him during the presidential elections," he noted. Rivlin was elected President earlier this year, replacing former President Shimon Peres.
"Public service is eroding, and there is a need to make a change," he added. "Following numerous consultations [with colleagues], I have decided to take a break from public life."
"After the holidays, I intend to submit my resignation from the government and Knesset," he continued. "Everything will be carried out in an orderly fashion."