Yatom Becomes Seventh MK to Quit in Last Two Years

"Over the past five and a half years in the Knesset I had the feeling that I never succeeding in fulfilling myself," explained Labor Party MK Dani Yatom, 63, the former head of the Mossad and a former IDF major general, at a news conference yesterday to announce his resignation from the Knesset. "I had the feeling that when I served a long period as a junior commander in the General Staff Reconnaissance unit, I contributed more than as a legislator and politician."

Yatom's resignation will take effect tomorrow at 3:30 P.M. He will be replaced Russian immigrant activist Leon Litinsky.

Yatom is joining the wave of six other MK's who have voluntarily chosen to leave the Knesset over the past two years: Efraim Sneh (Labor); Uriel Reichman, Avigdor Yitzhaki and Shlomo Breznitz (Kadima); and Danny Naveh and Natan Sharansky (Likud). Together they were three former ministers, two heads of academic institutions, and two former senior military officials.

"It seems to me that in the next few years there will not be any drastic change that will lead good people to enter politics," said Yatom.

He explained that he decided to quit the Knesset and political life since he is no longer willing to support a government that has turned survival into an ideology.

"I am not willing to operate in a political reality where basic values are trampled, such as [setting] a personal example, ethics and integrity," he said. "The prime minister is trying to gain another day and another and another.

"When I voted in support of the government, I did it against my conscience, since I think the prime minister should have resigned," said Yatom. "I hope my resignation will succeed in sending a message to the public that it is forbidden to ignore the behavior of leaders and politicians."

He said he has been weighing the decision for months, since the Labor Party decided at the beginning of the year not to quit the government after the publication of the second Winograd Committee report.

Yatom said he is quitting despite his good relations with party chairman Ehud Barak, and that he will be leaving politics for business, academia and volunteering.

"I am not moving to another party," said Yatom. "In English they say never say never, but I would be surprised if I return to politics."