Longtime NY Democrat Rep. Gary Ackerman retiring

In this handout photo provided by the Palestinian Press Office (PPO), Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia August 25, 2007 in Ramallah, West Bank. Ackerman is on a visit to Middle East to support the peace process in the region.
Photo by Omar Rashidi/PPO via Getty Images

Updated 9:21 p.m. ET

(AP) NEW YORK - U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman, a 15-term Democrat who has held key committee posts that help shape foreign policy in the Middle East, announced Thursday he will not seek re-election.

The congressman, who has represented diverse communities in Queens and part of Long Island, said in a statement Thursday that although new congressional boundaries were extremely favorable he would not seek another term.

"I have been truly privileged to have had the opportunity to fight for the beliefs of my neighbors," said the 69-year-old lawmaker, who lives in a houseboat while in Washington, D.C.

Ackerman is a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and has been outspoken on several global issues, including U.S. support for Israel and the threat it faces from Iran. Prior to his tenure in the House, he served as a New York state senator.

Ackerman said he was making the announcement on the eve of a federal court decision of new congressional boundaries for New York.

Ackerman, whose term in office is set to end Jan. 2, joins 23 other Democrats and 16 Republicans not seeking re-election.

Last October, Ackerman traveled to Israel to bring home a U.S.-Israeli citizen detained in Egypt for four months and accused of espionage.