BBC News
October 29, 2008 - 8:00pm

The veteran left-wing Israeli politician, Yossi Beilin, has said he will retire from political life after the general election due in February.

Mr Beilin initiated ground-breaking talks between Israel and the Palestinians during the early 1990s which led to the Oslo Peace Accords.

He also helped develop the Geneva Initiative, an unofficial peace deal negotiated by figures from both sides.

A spokeswoman said the former Meretz party head remained committed to peace.

Born in 1948, Mr Beilin has held ministerial posts in the governments of Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak, making him one of the country's most experienced left-wing politicians.

He has also been a leading mainstream proponent of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Mr Beilin also headed the popular campaign that eventually led to Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000.

First elected in 1988 to the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, Mr Beilin began his career as a member of the Labour party but then moved further left to join Meretz.

He stepped down as head of the party in December 2007 and was replaced by Haim Oron. Meretz holds five seats in the Knesset.

Mr Beilin said he would not seek re-election in February's election, which was called after Tzipi Livni, the head of the Kadima party, said she had failed to form a coalition.


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