BARAK, EHUD


BARAK, EHUD
BARAK, EHUD (1942– ), Israeli military commander and politician; member of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Knessets and prime minister of Israel. Barak was born in Kibbutz mishmar ha-sharon . He joined the IDF in 1959, beginning his military service in the Armored Corps. In the Six-Day War he fought as the commander of a reconnaissance unit and a year after the war received his B.Sc. in physics and mathematics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. From 1971 to 1973 he served in the legendary special forces unit at GHQ and was appointed its commander. In May 1972 he commanded the rescue operation to free the passengers of a Sabena plane that had been hijacked by members of Black September and landed at Lydda Airport. In the Yom Kippur War Barak commanded an armored battalion that fought on the southern front in the Sinai. In 1976 he was one of the planners of the Entebbe Operation, which freed the Jewish passengers of an Air France flight hijacked to Uganda, after all the non-Jewish passengers had been released by the hijackers. Barak was promoted to the rank of major general in 1981 and became head of the Planning Branch of the General Staff. During Operation Peace for Galilee he served as deputy commander of the unit that fought in Baka'a. In 1983 he was appointed head of the Intelligence Branch, and in February 1986 commander of the Central Command. In 1987 he completed a second degree in systems analysis from Stanford University in California and in the same year was appointed deputy chief of staff under dan shomron , serving four years. In 1991 Barak became Israel's 14th chief of staff, serving in that capacity until 1995. Though he did not participate in the Oslo talks, he was reported to have had reservations about the agreement reached with the Palestinians. After the signing of the Declaration of Principles in September 1993, he dealt with the implementation of the security arrangements and the redeployment of the IDF. Before leaving active service he met his Syrian counterpart twice in Washington. By the end of his military service Barak was the most highly decorated officer in the IDF. After the mandatory six-month cooling-off period, Barak was appointed minister of the interior in rabin 's government, and after Rabin's assassination was appointed by shimon peres as foreign minister in his government. Barak was elected to the Fourteenth Knesset, and on June 4, 1997, won the Labor primaries for party leadership. In the elections to the Fifteenth Knesset and the premiership in 1999, Barak won a decisive victory over binyamin netanyahu as head of the One Israel list, which included the Labor Party, Gesher, and Meimad. He set up a coalition that included meretz , shas ,   the Center Party, natan sharansky 's Yisrael be-Aliyah, and the national religious party . Barak fulfilled his election promise to take the IDF out of Southern Lebanon within a year of being elected prime minister. However, his attempts to reach a permanent settlement with Syria failed. Despite his willingness to make far-reaching concessions to the Palestinians, talks held with yasir arafat under the auspices of President Bill Clinton in Camp David in July 2000 failed, and the second intifada broke out in the beginning of October. However, as a result of his willingness to reach an agreement with the Palestinians on the basis of far-reaching territorial concessions, Shas, the NRP, and Yisrael be-Aliyah left the government. Consequently Barak resigned and new elections for the premiership were held in February 2001, with Barak suffering a crushing defeat by ariel sharon . After considering the possibility of joining Sharon's new government, Barak resigned from leadership of the Labor Party and his Knesset seat, deciding to take time out from political activity. In the beginning of 2004 he indicated that he was planning to make a political comeback towards the elections to the Seventeenth Knesset. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: B. Kaspit, Barak: Ḥayal Mispar 1 ("Ehud Barak: Soldier Number 1," 1998); I. Kfir, Barak: Ha-Biyographiah ("Barak: the Biography," 1999); G. Sher, Be-Merḥak Negi'ah: Ha-Masa u-Matan le-Shalom, 19992001, Edut ("Touching Distance: the Negotiations for Peace, 1999–2001: Evidence," 2001); R. Edelist, Ehud Barak: Milḥamto be-Shedim: Ma Kara le-Barak? ("Ehud Barak: His War Against Devils: What Happened to Barak?" 2003); R. Drucker, Harakiri: Ehud Barak be-Mivḥan ha-Totza\`ah ("Harakiri: Ehud Barak in the Test of Time," 2002). (Susan Hattis Rolef (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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