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A major in the Givati Brigade walked around an Israel Defense Forces base near Nablus yesterday morning looking for soldiers to chat with a visiting dignitary of sorts: Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who has been popping into various IDF bases since yesterday - a day announcing he was leaving the Labor Party.

The major found 25 soldiers, who sat on benches eating orange slices as they got briefed on the meeting: Don't get excited, don't interrupt, and don't ask political questions.

After getting an overview of Nablus, during which he looked bored, Barak headed over to the soldiers, whom he thanked for their service. He then spoke with them one by one, adopting a fatherly tone.

"When is the last time you went home?" asked the former chief of staff. "Where did you do your training?"

Afterward, one soldier, a sniper, said he thought the military base was an inappropriate place for Barak's photo op.

"He doesn't care the last time we had a weekend off," the soldier said. "He just wants to be seen on TV as someone who cares about when we had a weekend off."