JERUSALEM – Deputy Defense Minister Dalia Rabin-Pelossof resigned from her position Tuesday, with colleagues saying she was upset with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's reluctance to reopen peace talks with the Palestinians.
Rabin-Pelossof, the daughter of the former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, submitted her letter of resignation Tuesday, the same day that the military carried out an air strike that killed a top Hamas leader and 14 other people in Gaza City.
There was no indication that the attack was a reason for her resignation, and she had been increasingly critical of Sharon's hardline leadership in recent months.
Rabin-Pelossof has been urging the moderate Labor party, to which she belongs, to withdraw from Sharon's broad-based government, but the party has remained in the coalition with the hard-line Likud.
"She could no longer be part of this government that tells the Israeli public that there are no solutions to our problems," Labor lawmaker Ophir Pines-Paz told the Haaretz newspaper.
Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, the leader of the Labor party, said her decision to step down was for "personal reasons" and he encouraged her to continue her political activities.
Rabin-Pelossof will remain a member of parliament and will expand her work with the Rabin Center for Peace, the Haaretz newspaper reported.
In recent months, she publicly expressed her opposition to Sharon's efforts to isolate Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
"The government decided that Arafat is not relevant," she told Israel television in December. "This is not my opinion. In the end we will have to speak to someone."
Sharon has insisted that all violence stop before peace talks are resumed, and no negotiations have been held since he took office in March of last year.
After her father was gunned down in 1995 by a Jewish extremist who opposed Rabin's land-for-peace agreements with Palestinians, Rabin-Pelossof vowed to continue his legacy. She joined politics in 1999 as a member of the moderate Center Party but later left to join her father's party, Labor.
Rabin-Pelossof defended her decision to join Sharon's government, saying that she believed the leader of the Likud party had become less hardline in recent years and was willing to work toward peace.