Kadima party heavyweight Dalia Itzik, one of Israel’s veteran parliamentarians, on Wednesday announced her retirement from politics. The move came close on the heels of the resignation of her colleague MK Roni Bar-On, as Kadima, which, latest polls predict, will not make it back to parliament following the January 22 elections, announced an underwhelming Knesset slate.
Itzik, 60, has served in Israeli politics for the last 20 years and has held numerous posts, including environment protection minister; industry, trade and labor minister; communications minister; and acting president. She is also the only woman to have held the position of Knesset speaker.
“Regrettably, tons of ego and power struggles have ripped the left and the center asunder,” Itzik said, alluding to the slew of parties to the left of Likud. “My ability to influence the process at this point is negligible, and that’s why I’m taking some time off.
“I’m taking time off from public life, not leaving it.” Itzik emphasized, noting that she had left only after failing to unite the center-left behind former prime minister Ehud Olmert, whom she said is currently “the only one who can lead the State of Israel.”
Itzik’s statement came several hours after MK Bar-On, chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, announced his retirement. Bar-On has been an MK since 2003, and has served as finance minister, interior minister, energy and water resources minister, and minister of science and technology.
Izik bolted from Labor to help form Kadima seven years ago; Bar-On moved over from the Likud.
Meanwhile, Kadima presented its Knesset list ahead of the elections. Chairman Shaul Mofaz will be followed by MKs Yisrael Hasson, Yohanan Plesner, Zeev Bielski and Ronit Tirosh. The next five spots include Shai Hermesh, Yuval Zellner, Doron Avital, Marina Solodkin and former Shinui party MK Eti Livni.
The resignations came days after a mass exodus of Kadima’s top guns to the Hatnua (The Movement) party, newly launched by Kadima’s former chairperson Tzipi Livni. In recent months, Kadima has been plummeting in the polls and is currently projected to fall short of the electoral threshold required to send any members to parliament.