Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak announces retirement from political life, and that he won't be running in the January 22 national election, thus ending a decades-long career in service of the Jewish state. Speaking to reporters in Hebrew, he said:

"53 years ago, in November 1959 I joined the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) and I've been serving the people of Israel since, for 49 years, the best I can. Today I stand before you to share my decision to resign from political life and not to run in the coming election for Knesset. It was a decision taken not without difficulties but eventually whole-heartedly."

Barak, 70, has been a key player in Israel's tough policy towards curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions and a figure head in the Jewish state's strategic relations with the United States. He has been Defence Minister since 2007 and served as Prime Minister from 1999 to 2001.

And although opinion polls had predicted a poor showing for the small party that Barak currently leads, he is leaving on a high though, following the recent flurry of support, following Israel's eight-day offensive in the Gaza Strip that ended in a ceasefire. But this announcement has still come a little out of the blue from this career-long-standing Israeli politician.

Written and presented by Ann Salter.