Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak Stepping Down

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced on Monday he's quitting politics.

Israel is due to hold general elections in January and Barak says he'll step down after the new defense minister is appointed.

Barak has held a number of government positions over the years, including prime minister in 1999, when he beat current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A military man and decorated war hero, Barak said he's leaving politics to spend more time with his family.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he respects Barak's decision and very much appreciates his contribution over many years to Israel's security.

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