Prominent Shas MK Ariel Atias announced Thursday he will resign from the Knesset, ending an eight-year political career.
Atias will be replaced by Rabbi Yoav Ben-Tzur, the 12th member on the Sephardic, ultra-Orthodox party’s list, beginning Sunday. (Shas won 11 seats in last year’s elections.) Ben-Tzur is presently the CEO of Shas’s Maayan educational system.
Atias did not offer an explanation for his departure, but said he would continue to be active in public affairs on behalf of the party, and plans to start a business.
“In my role, I tried to act to the best of my ability faithfully and responsibly for the benefit of all Israeli citizens, and to fulfill the mission entrusted to me,” Atias said in a statement.
While Atias made no indication in his statements that he intends to return to the Knesset, Shas chairman Aryeh Deri told the Kol Berama radio station that the move was simply a “break.”
“I don’t see this as a goodbye at all; I see it as a break from the Knesset,” Deri said.
Atias, a former confidant of the late spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, was said to lose interest in political life after Yosef’s passing in October 2013.
He entered the Knesset in 2006, where he served as communications minister under prime minister Ehud Olmert. In 2009, Atias received the housing and construction ministerial portfolio and, in 2013, served as co-chairman of his party alongside MK Aryeh Deri and MK Eli Yishai.