Name Intact

What a strange politician Ophir Pines-Paz is. He was bored in the Knesset; he felt that he wasn't contributing and had no influence, and that his relationship with party leader Ehud Barak had reached a point of no return. So he decided to give up his Knesset seat and go home.

In contrast, six Kadima MKs, who are also frustrated and bitter and have also soured on their party leader, stole late at night into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office to arrange wasteful, unnecessary jobs for themselves, along with official cars and offices. And now they're waiting in the dark, as is their wont, for the right moment.

The Knesset is losing its best assets and being left with the chaff. It is also losing the leaders of the left, who have been quitting one after another: Yossi Sarid, Yossi Beilin, Haim Ramon and now Pines-Paz.

The man who was identified with the moderate left of the Labor Party, with personal integrity and parliamentary professionalism, suddenly announced yesterday that he had had it. People who have spoken to him in recent months say he felt he had come to a dead end, personally and politically. He didn't feel comfortable among the other Labor party rebels, but his efforts to return to the party ranks ran into a brick wall put up by Barak. While Barak knows Pines' public importance, he also feared that Pines would steal the party from him - as if there were anything left to steal.

Pines might return to politics before the next election - either to a new center-left party or as head of the Green party. From his perspective, he is departing at the right time. The height of his career was in 2005, when Labor made him one of its senior cabinet ministers in Ariel Sharon's government. Since then, he has been left with only his good name.

He is leaving politics, for now, with that intact. And that is no small thing.