Kadima party chairman Shaul Mofaz announced Tuesday that he was dropping out of politics, likely marking the death knell for the centrist faction which controlled the most Knesset seats just two years ago.
Mofaz, a former defense minister and IDF chief of staff, had been in negotiations to join the Zionist Camp party, but announced on Monday that his name would not be added to the center-left list ahead of the coming national elections.
“For me, service is a way of life and great privilege,” Mofaz said Tuesday. “In the future as well, in every job I will do and in every path I will take, I will march for Israel. I will devote my security experience, all of my years, abilities, and talents, for the good of our children’s future.”
Mofaz also admitted that he “is not a great politician… Politics is not something in which I strive to excel.”
Mofaz’s Kadima party is not projected to garner enough votes to make it into the Knesset in the March election.
He was one of only two MKs from the party to sit in the 19th Knesset.
The party, formed in 2005 by then-prime minister Ariel Sharon, won 28 seats in 2009, beating out Likud’s 27 mandates, but was still forced into the opposition, after four years as the ruling party.
Mofaz was born in Tehran, Iran in 1948, and moved to Israel with his parents in 1957. He began his IDF service in the Paratroopers Brigade in 1966, and fought in the Six-Day War, Yom Kippur War, First Lebanon War, and the Entebbe raid. He served as chief of staff from 1998-2002.
Mofaz first entered politics when prime minister Ariel Sharon, then with the Likud party, appointed him defense minister in 2002.
Mofaz followed Sharon to the new Kadima party in 2005. He handily beat Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni in 2012 to become the new party leader.
Livni denied preventing him from being given a safe, high slot on her joint Zionist Camp list with Labor, saying it had been Isaac Herzog’s decision.
Stuart Winer contributed to this report.