Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir
Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir Flash 90

Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir is expected to formally inform Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman on Sunday that he will not run for the next Knesset.

There have been speculations over the last week that Shamir would be the next Yisrael Beytenu MK to resign from the Knesset, and he was notably absent from the list the party published on Thursday.

“I find it hard to identify with the change in the political platform of Yisrael Beytenu, therefore my decision not to run for the Knesset as part of the party was a natural and necessary one,” Shamir wrote on Saturday night.

“However, I am not retiring from public life, and have the intention to continue to contribute to strengthen our people and the prosperity of our country. After five decades in which I served the country and the people in the army and in the business world, I added these past two years that I spent in the Knesset and in the government,” he added.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to participate over the last two years in complex decision-making in areas of security and social policy and for being allowed to make a significant contribution to strengthening the settlement enterprise, to promoting the resilience of agriculture as an engine of economic growth, while improving Israel's international standing,” said Shamir.

With his resignation, Shamir is joining a group of key MKs who have left Yisrael Beytenu over the past few weeks. He was preceded by Tourism Minister Uzi Landau, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich, MK David Rotem, and Deputy Interior Minister Faina Kirschenbaum.

Shamir, the son of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, chose to join Avigdor Liberman's Yisrael Beytenu rather than the Likud, the party his father led. Before the last elections, Shamir criticized Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for saying he supports a Palestinian state during the Bar Ilan speech in 2009.

"Netanyahu is zigzagging because he wants to please his voters," Shamir said at the time, adding, "The two-state solution is not in the Likud platform. He made the Bar-Ilan speech that was not approved by the Likud's institutions nor by the Israeli government at that time."