Photo Credit: Marc Israel Sellem/POOL
Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz and then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pose in front of the Leviathan gas field processing rig, on January 31, 2019.

Likud MK Yuval Steinitz, currently a member of the opposition and in the past, Finance, Intelligence, Strategic Affairs, and Energy Minister, on Tuesday announced his retirement from political life.

Steinitz tweeted Tuesday morning: “Dear Friends, I recently informed the Likud chairman that I had decided not to run in the elections. After 23 years as an MK, I felt that I and my family deserved to breathe some clean air. In the upcoming elections, I put myself at the disposal of my Likud members, and hope that the results will enable the establishment of a national government led by Netanyahu and the Likud. Thank you all.”

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Steinitz grew up in a liberal home and began his political activity in the 1980s as a left-wing activist, supporting Peace Now. He was even wounded by the grenade that was thrown by Yona Abrushmi on a crowd of left-wing demonstrators and killed Emil Grinzweig during a Peace Now rally in 1983. A decade later, in 1994, Steinitz changed his political views and moved to the right over his criticisms of the Oslo Accords that had been signed in 1993. By the 1996 elections, Steinitz came out openly in support of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu, who demoted Steinitz several times, most notably when he replaced him as finance minister with Yair Lapid (who at the time admitted he knew nothing about finance) responded to Steinitz’s retirement Tuesday: “Our joint struggle to get the gas out of the water, despite all the populist pressures, has brought tens of billions to the citizens of Israel – in education, welfare, health, and infrastructure. As finance minister, Yuval worked to lower prices and taxes, and as a member of the Political-Security Cabinet, he was a partner in particularly important decisions for Israel’s security. I am sure that Yuval will continue to contribute to the citizens of Israel and our beloved country. Good luck Yuval!”

Among the laws initiated by Steinitz during his tenure as MK were: a three-year cooling-off period for IDF generals and Heads of the Mossad, Shin Bet, and the Police, before they can become Knesset Members or government ministers; a law regulating the research of biological pathogens (bacteria, viruses); and a law requiring noise meters in event halls.

In 2015, as Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Steinitz formulated the “Gas Framework” enabling the development of Israel’s biggest gas discovery Leviathan, and paving the way for future gas and oil explorations. The Gas Framework was approved by the Israeli government in August 2015, and by the Knesset Plenum in September 2015. Yet in March 2016 Israel’s Supreme court nullified the framework stability section and forced Minister Steinitz to amend it and bring it back for the government’s approval. The revised framework was approved in May 2016, and the development of Leviathan ultimately began.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.