Barak: Netanyahu's Disregard of Israeli Social Protest Cost Him the Election

In interview with CNN, former defense minister says the thousands who took to the streets came out en masse on Election Day to demand they be part of the decision-making process; insists he has left politics for at least the next 5 years.

The Israeli government's disregard of the demands made by social justice protesters contributed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's failure and the subsequent rise of Yair Lapid in the general election on Tuesday, Former Defense Minister Ehud Barak told CNN in an interview Wednesday.

"The people who went in hundreds of thousands to the streets were basically ignored by the government that I am a part of," Barak told CNN, in English, while attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "They came to the ballots [Tuesday] to say, for us, we want our share of what happens in Israel. It was a kind of telling the government, 'there is a limit to what you can expect of us'."

"There is a famous Israeli joke," Barak went on. "One-third of the country is waking up to work, one third is paying taxes, and one third is serving in the reserves - but it's the same one-third. This one-third sent a message to the government that they want to be part of it, or else."

Barak said that Netanyahu would form the next coalition but that he is much weaker. "His people did not come to the ballots, the center-left voters came to the ballots en masse, and created this new situation, a very interesting one," Barak said.

"[The new government led by Netanyahu] will probably be much more limited in pushing it's ideology. It will be much more balanced... [incapable of doing] whatever it wants and will have to take into account the growing pressure from within to focus on many issues which internally is [sic] interesting for the mainstream Israelis."

Barak, 69, has said he is leaving politics and would refuse to accept a position in the next government. "I have already told the public and the prime minister -- many people do not believe, but I don't see a reason for this -- that I'm not going to join. I'm going to leave political life for at least the next five years."

But, he continued, "you never say never."

"I cannot refuse to contemplate it, but I don't believe that I'm going to," he added.

CNN Screenshot