In an analysis on defense minister Ehud Barak’s sudden announcement that he is withdrawing from Israeli politics, Anshel Pfeffer wrotes:
[I]n recent weeks, Barak has finally realized that his chances of remaining Netanyahu’s defense minister are increasingly slim. Not because Bibi doesn’t want him by his side; it’s simply because the odds are against him.
Barak has long been a hate-figure for the right-wing element in the Likud who blame him for blocking construction in the settlements and occasionally dismantling outposts. For months, while rumors said that Netanyahu might award him a spot on the Likud list – the prime minister had voiced the possibility that as party leader he would be allowed to “parachute” his own candidates into the list, which widely assumed to be for Barak’s benefit – he faced mounting pressure from his own party ranks against the motion. They didn’t really care whether Barak would become a Likud member or not; they just didn’t want to see him in the next cabinet altogether. One reason why former IDF Chief of Staff and Likud minister Moshe Ya’alon was expected to do well in the Likud primaries is that many members want to make it clear to Netanyahu that he is their candidate for defense minister.
Barak realized that even if Atzmaut would succeed in securing him a seat in the next Knesset, an outcome far from assured, Netanyahu would be unable to reappoint him to the only cabinet position he has any interest in. That was the moment he knew he had to resign and become master of his political fate.