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Veteran Meretz MK Ran Cohen announced on Saturday that he was retiring from politics

Cohen's departure from politics came shortly after that of his left-wing party's former chairman, MK Yossi Beilin, which was announced on Tuesday.

"I want to begin a third chapter, in which I will fulfill my heart's desire: Writing, lecturing, helping in social activities that interest me," said Cohen, 68.

Cohen added: "I'll be happy to see on Meretz's list for the next Knesset young and new candidates who will continue the work for peace and social justice."

Cohen informed Meretz chairman MK Haim Oron on Saturday of his decision not to contend in the upcoming general election.

He has served as an MK for 24 consecutive years, during which he held the post of Trade and Industry minister under then prime minister Ehud Barak between 1999-2000. Cohen has unsuccessfully competed twice for the leadership of Meretz, most recently half a year ago.