Ehud Barak

Ehud Barak

Overview
Ehud Barak is an Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i politician who served as Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Israel
The Prime Minister of Israel is the head of the Israeli government and the most powerful political figure in Israel . The prime minister is the country's chief executive. The official residence of the prime minister, Beit Rosh Hamemshala is in Jerusalem...

 from 1999 until 2001. He was leader of the Labor Party until January 2011 and holds the posts of Minister of Defense and Deputy Prime Minister in Binyamin Netanyahu's government
Cabinet of Israel
The Cabinet of Israel is a formal body composed of government officials called ministers, chosen and led by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister must appoint members based on the distribution of votes to political parties during legislative elections, and its composition must be approved by a...

.

He is a graduate in physics, mathematics, and economics from Hebrew University and Stanford University
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

. He served as an officer in the Israel Defense Forces
Israel Defense Forces
The Israel Defense Forces , commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym Tzahal , are the military forces of the State of Israel. They consist of the ground forces, air force and navy. It is the sole military wing of the Israeli security forces, and has no civilian jurisdiction within Israel...

. Following a highly decorated career, he was appointed Chief of General Staff
Ramatkal
The Chief of the General Staff, also known as the Commander-in-Chief of the Israel Defense Forces is the supreme commander and Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces. At any given time, the Chief of Staff is the only active officer holding the IDF's highest rank, Rav Aluf , which is usually...

 in 1991, serving until 1995.

In 2005, he was voted the 61st-greatest Israeli of all time, in a poll by the Israeli news website Ynet
Ynet
Ynet is the most popular Israeli news and general content website. It is owned by the same conglomerate that operates Yediot Ahronot, the country's secondleading daily newspaper...

to determine whom the general public considered the 200 Greatest Israelis.

He was born on 12 February 1942 in kibbutz
Kibbutz
A kibbutz is a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture. Today, farming has been partly supplanted by other economic branches, including industrial plants and high-tech enterprises. Kibbutzim began as utopian communities, a combination of socialism and Zionism...

 Mishmar HaSharon
Mishmar HaSharon
Mishmar HaSharon is a kibbutz in central Israel. Located in the Sharon plain, it falls under the jurisdiction of Hefer Valley Regional Council. In 2006 it had a population of 459....

 in Palestine
Mandate Palestine
Mandate Palestine existed while the British Mandate for Palestine, which formally began in September 1923 and terminated in May 1948, was in effect...

.
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Encyclopedia
Ehud Barak is an Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i politician who served as Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Israel
The Prime Minister of Israel is the head of the Israeli government and the most powerful political figure in Israel . The prime minister is the country's chief executive. The official residence of the prime minister, Beit Rosh Hamemshala is in Jerusalem...

 from 1999 until 2001. He was leader of the Labor Party until January 2011 and holds the posts of Minister of Defense and Deputy Prime Minister in Binyamin Netanyahu's government
Cabinet of Israel
The Cabinet of Israel is a formal body composed of government officials called ministers, chosen and led by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister must appoint members based on the distribution of votes to political parties during legislative elections, and its composition must be approved by a...

.

He is a graduate in physics, mathematics, and economics from Hebrew University and Stanford University
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

. He served as an officer in the Israel Defense Forces
Israel Defense Forces
The Israel Defense Forces , commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym Tzahal , are the military forces of the State of Israel. They consist of the ground forces, air force and navy. It is the sole military wing of the Israeli security forces, and has no civilian jurisdiction within Israel...

. Following a highly decorated career, he was appointed Chief of General Staff
Ramatkal
The Chief of the General Staff, also known as the Commander-in-Chief of the Israel Defense Forces is the supreme commander and Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces. At any given time, the Chief of Staff is the only active officer holding the IDF's highest rank, Rav Aluf , which is usually...

 in 1991, serving until 1995.

In 2005, he was voted the 61st-greatest Israeli of all time, in a poll by the Israeli news website Ynet
Ynet
Ynet is the most popular Israeli news and general content website. It is owned by the same conglomerate that operates Yediot Ahronot, the country's secondleading daily newspaper...

to determine whom the general public considered the 200 Greatest Israelis.

Personal life


He was born on 12 February 1942 in kibbutz
Kibbutz
A kibbutz is a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture. Today, farming has been partly supplanted by other economic branches, including industrial plants and high-tech enterprises. Kibbutzim began as utopian communities, a combination of socialism and Zionism...

 Mishmar HaSharon
Mishmar HaSharon
Mishmar HaSharon is a kibbutz in central Israel. Located in the Sharon plain, it falls under the jurisdiction of Hefer Valley Regional Council. In 2006 it had a population of 459....

 in Palestine
Mandate Palestine
Mandate Palestine existed while the British Mandate for Palestine, which formally began in September 1923 and terminated in May 1948, was in effect...

. He is the eldest of four sons of Esther (née Godin) and Yisrael Brog.

His paternal grandparents, Frieda and Reuven Brog, were murdered in Pušalotas (Pushelat)
Pušalotas
Pušalotas is a small town in Panevėžys County, in northeastern Lithuania. According to the 2001 census, the town has a population of 885 people....

 in the northern Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

 (then ruled by Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

) in 1912, leaving his father orphaned at the age of two. Barak's maternal grandparents, Elka and Shmuel Godin, died at the Treblinka extermination camp
Treblinka extermination camp
Treblinka was a Nazi extermination camp in occupied Poland during World War II near the village of Treblinka in the modern-day Masovian Voivodeship of Poland. The camp, which was constructed as part of Operation Reinhard, operated between and ,. During this time, approximately 850,000 men, women...

 during the Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

.

Ehud hebraized
Hebraization of surnames
The Hebraization of surnames is the process of adopting Hebrew family names ....

 his family name from "Brog" to "Barak" in 1972. It was during his military service that he met his future wife, Nava (née Cohen). They had three daughters together. Barak divorced Nava in August 2003. On 30 July 2007 Barak married Nili Priel in a small ceremony in his private residence. In his spare time, Barak enjoys reading works by writers such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer, pictorial artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature. His works span the fields of poetry, drama, prose, philosophy, and science. His Faust has been called the greatest long...

.

Education


Barak earned his bachelor's degree
Bachelor's degree
A bachelor's degree is usually an academic degree awarded for an undergraduate course or major that generally lasts for three or four years, but can range anywhere from two to six years depending on the region of the world...

 in physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

 and mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

 from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem ; ; abbreviated HUJI) is Israel's second-oldest university, after the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. The Hebrew University has three campuses in Jerusalem and one in Rehovot. The world's largest Jewish studies library is located on its Edmond J...

 in 1968, and his master's degree in engineering-economic systems in 1978 from Stanford University
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

, in California.

Military service


Barak joined the Israel Defense Forces
Israel Defense Forces
The Israel Defense Forces , commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym Tzahal , are the military forces of the State of Israel. They consist of the ground forces, air force and navy. It is the sole military wing of the Israeli security forces, and has no civilian jurisdiction within Israel...

 (I.D.F.) in 1959. He served in the IDF for 35 years, rising to the position of Chief of the General Staff
Ramatkal
The Chief of the General Staff, also known as the Commander-in-Chief of the Israel Defense Forces is the supreme commander and Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces. At any given time, the Chief of Staff is the only active officer holding the IDF's highest rank, Rav Aluf , which is usually...

 and the rank of Rav Aluf (Lieutenant-General), the highest in the Israeli military. During the Yom Kippur War
Yom Kippur War
The Yom Kippur War, Ramadan War or October War , also known as the 1973 Arab-Israeli War and the Fourth Arab-Israeli War, was fought from October 6 to 25, 1973, between Israel and a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria...

, Barak commanded an improvised regiment of tanks which among other things, helped rescue paratrooper battalion 890 commanded by Yitzhak Mordechai
Yitzhak Mordechai
Yitzhak Mordechai is an Israeli former general and politician. He served as a member of the Knesset between 1996 and 2001, and as Minister of Defense and Minister of Transport. He retired from political life after being indicted for sexual assaults during his military service and later...

 who were suffering heavy losses in the Battle of the Chinese Farm
Battle of The Chinese Farm
The Battle of the Chinese Farm took place during October 15 to October 17, 1973 between the Egyptian Army and the Israel Defense Forces , as part of the Yom Kippur War. It was fought in the Sinai Peninsula, north of the Great Bitter Lake and just east of the Suez Canal...

.

During his service as a commando in the elite Sayeret Matkal
Sayeret Matkal
Sayeret Matkal is a special forces unit of the Israel Defence Forces , which is subordinated to the intelligence directorate Aman. First and foremost a field intelligence-gathering unit, conducting deep reconnaissance behind enemy lines to obtain strategic intelligence, Sayeret Matkal is also...

, Barak led several highly acclaimed operations, such as: "Operation Isotope", the rescue mission to free the hostages onboard Sabena Flight 571 at Lod Airport in 1972; the 1973 covert mission
Covert operation
A covert operation is a military, intelligence or law enforcement operation that is carried clandestinely and, often, outside of official channels. Covert operations aim to fulfill their mission objectives without any parties knowing who sponsored or carried out the operation...

 Operation Spring of Youth
Operation Spring of Youth
The 1973 Israeli raid on Lebanon took place on the night of April 9 and early morning of April 10, 1973 when Israel Defense Forces special forces units attacked several Palestine Liberation Organization targets in Beirut and Sidon, Lebanon...

 in Beirut
Beirut
Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon, with a population ranging from 1 million to more than 2 million . Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coastline, it serves as the country's largest and main seaport, and also forms the Beirut Metropolitan...

, in which he was disguised as a woman in order to assassinate members of the Palestine Liberation Organization
Palestine Liberation Organization
The Palestine Liberation Organization is a political and paramilitary organization which was created in 1964. It is recognized as the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people" by the United Nations and over 100 states with which it holds diplomatic relations, and has enjoyed...

; Barak was also a key architect of the June 1976 Operation Entebbe
Operation Entebbe
Operation Entebbe was a counter-terrorist hostage-rescue mission carried out by the Special Forces of the Israel Defense Forces at Entebbe Airport in Uganda on 4 July 1976. A week earlier, on 27 June, an Air France plane with 248 passengers was hijacked by Palestinian and German terrorists and...

, another rescue mission to free the hostages of the Air France
Air France
Air France , stylised as AIRFRANCE, is the French flag carrier headquartered in Tremblay-en-France, , and is one of the world's largest airlines. It is a subsidiary of the Air France-KLM Group and a founding member of the SkyTeam global airline alliance...

 aircraft hijacked by terrorists and forced to land at the Entebbe Airport in Uganda. These highly acclaimed operations, along with Operation Bayonet led to the dismantling of Palestinian terrorist cell Black September
Black September (group)
The Black September Organization was a Palestinian paramilitary group, founded in 1970. It was responsible for the kidnapping and murder of eleven Israeli athletes and officials, and fatal shooting of a West German policeman, during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, their most publicized event...

. It has been alluded that Barak also masterminded the Tunis Raid on 16 April 1988, in which PLO leader Abu Jihad
Abu Jihad
Khalil Ibrahim al-Wazir , also known by his kunya "Abu Jihad" , was a Palestinian military leader and founder of the secular nationalist party Fatah...

 was assassinated.

Later he served as head of Aman, the Military Intelligence Directorate (1983–85), head of Central Command (1986–87) and Deputy Chief of the General Staff (1987–91). He served as Chief of the General Staff between 1 April 1991 and 1 January 1995. During this period he implemented the first Oslo Accords
Oslo Accords
The Oslo Accords, officially called the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements or Declaration of Principles , was an attempt to resolve the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict...

 and participated in the negotiations towards the Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace
Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace
The Israel–Jordan Treaty of Peace was signed in 1994. The treaty normalized relations between the two countries and resolved territorial disputes. The conflict had cost roughly US$18.3 billion...

.

Barak was awarded the Medal of Distinguished Service
Medal of Distinguished Service
The Medal of Distinguished Service is an Israeli military decoration.- Overview :The medal has instituted in 1970 by act of law in the Knesset and could also be awarded also for actions performed before 1970....

 and four Chief of Staff citations (Tzalash HaRamatkal) for courage and operational excellence. These five decorations make him the most decorated
Israeli Military decorations
The Israeli Military decorations are the decorations awarded to soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces who exhibit extraordinary bravery and courage....

 soldier in Israeli history
History of Israel
The State of Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948 after almost two millennia of Jewish dispersal and persecution around the Mediterranean. From the late 19th century the Zionist movement worked towards the goal of recreating a homeland for the Jewish people...

 (jointly with close friend Nechemya Cohen
Nechemya Cohen
Nechemiah Cohen is the most decorated soldier in the history of the Israel Defense Forces [IDF).. He shares this honour with close friend and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and Major Amitai Hason. He received five decorations - one Medal of Distinguished Service and four Chief Of Staff Citations...

). In 1992 he was also awarded the Legion of Merit
Legion of Merit
The Legion of Merit is a military decoration of the United States armed forces that is awarded for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements...

 (Commander) by the United States.

Political career


On 7 July 1995 Barak was appointed Minister of Internal Affairs
Internal Affairs Minister of Israel
The Interior Minister , also known as the Minister of Internal Affairs is head of the Israeli Ministry of Interior and an important portfolio in the cabinet. The current Interior Minister is Eli Yishai of Shas...

 by Yitzhak Rabin
Yitzhak Rabin
' was an Israeli politician, statesman and general. He was the fifth Prime Minister of Israel, serving two terms in office, 1974–77 and 1992 until his assassination in 1995....

. When Shimon Peres
Shimon Peres
GCMG is the ninth President of the State of Israel. Peres served twice as the eighth Prime Minister of Israel and once as Interim Prime Minister, and has been a member of 12 cabinets in a political career spanning over 66 years...

 formed a new government following Rabin's assassination in November 1995, Barak was made Minister of Foreign Affairs
Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel
The Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel is the political head of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The position is one of the most important in the Israeli cabinet after Prime Minister and Defense Minister...

 (1995–96). He was elected to the Knesset on the Labor Party list in 1996
Israeli legislative election, 1996
Elections for the fourteenth Knesset were held in Israel on 29 May 1996. Voter turnout was 79.3%.The 1996 elections included two new changes, both designed to increase the stability of the Knesset. First, the Prime Minister was to be elected on a separate ballot from the remaining members of the...

, and served as a member of the Knesset
Knesset
The Knesset is the unicameral legislature of Israel, located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.-Role in Israeli Government :The legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister , approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government...

 Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Following internal elections after Peres' defeat in the election for Prime Minister
Israeli prime ministerial election, 1996
The first ever election for Prime Minister was held in Israel on 29 May 1996 alongside simultaneous Knesset elections. There were only two candidates: Shimon Peres of the Labour Party and Binyamin Netanyahu of Likud. The result was a surprise win for Netanyahu by a margin of 29,457 votes, less than...

 in 1996, Barak became the leader of the Labor Party.

Prime Minister of Israel



In the 1999 Prime Ministerial election
Israeli prime ministerial election, 1999
The second Prime Ministerial election in Israel was held on 17 May 1999 alongside elections for the 15th Knesset. Voter turnout was 69.0%.-Context:...

, Barak beat Binyamin Netanyahu by a wide margin. However, he sparked controversy by deciding to form a coalition with the ultra-Orthodox party Shas
Shas
Shas is an ultra-orthodox religious political party in Israel, primarily representing Sephardic and Mizrahi Haredi Judaism.Shas was founded in 1984 by dissident members of the Ashkenazi dominated Agudat Israel, to represent the interests of religiously observant Sephardic and Mizrahi ...

, who had won an unprecedented 17 seats in the 120-seat Knesset
Knesset
The Knesset is the unicameral legislature of Israel, located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.-Role in Israeli Government :The legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister , approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government...

. Shas
Shas
Shas is an ultra-orthodox religious political party in Israel, primarily representing Sephardic and Mizrahi Haredi Judaism.Shas was founded in 1984 by dissident members of the Ashkenazi dominated Agudat Israel, to represent the interests of religiously observant Sephardic and Mizrahi ...

 grudgingly agreed to Barak's terms that they eject their leader Aryeh Deri
Aryeh Deri
Aryeh Deri is an Israeli politician, and former leader of Israel's Shas Party.-Biography:After Deri was convicted of taking $155,000 in bribes while serving as Interior Minister and given a three-year jail sentence in 2000, he was replaced by Eli Yishai...

, a convicted felon, and enact reform to "clean up" in-party corruption. Consequentially, the left wing Meretz party quit the coalition after they failed to agree on the powers to be given to a Shas deputy minister in the Ministry of Education.
In 1999 Barak gave a campaign promise to end Israel's 22-year long occupation of Southern Lebanon
Southern Lebanon
Southern Lebanon is the geographical area of Lebanon comprising the South Governorate and the Nabatiye Governorate. These two entities were divided from the same province in the early 1990s...

 within a year. On 24 May 2000 Israel withdrew
Blue Line (Lebanon)
The Blue Line is a border demarcation between Lebanon and Israel published by the United Nations on 7 June 2000 for the purposes of determining whether Israel had fully withdrawn from Lebanon...

 from Southern Lebanon. On 7 October, three Israeli soldiers were killed in a border raid by Hezbollah and their bodies were subsequently captured. The bodies of these soldiers, along with the living Elhanan Tenenbaum, were eventually exchanged for Lebanese captives in 2004. Barak inaugurated peace negotiations with the PLO, which ultimately proved unfruitful. As part of these negotiations, Barak took part in the Camp David 2000 Summit
Camp David 2000 Summit
The Middle East Peace Summit at Camp David of July 2000 took place between United States President Bill Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat...

 which was meant to finally resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Israeli-Palestinian conflict
The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The conflict is wide-ranging, and the term is also used in reference to the earlier phases of the same conflict, between Jewish and Zionist yishuv and the Arab population living in Palestine under Ottoman or...

 but failed. Barak also allowed Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami
Shlomo Ben-Ami
Prof. Shlomo Ben-Ami is a former Israeli diplomat, politician and historian.-Biography:Ben-Ami was born in Tangiers, Morocco, and immigrated to Israel in 1955....

 to attend the Taba Summit
Taba Summit
The Taba summit were talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, held from January 21 to January 27, 2001 at Taba in the Sinai peninsula...

 with the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, after his government had fallen.

Domestic issues


Barak was in power during the appointment of the Tal committee which dealt with the controversial issue of ultra-Orthodox Jews' exemption from military service. Riots in October 2000
October 2000 events
The October 2000 events were a series of protests in Arab villages in northern Israel in October 2000 that turned violent, escalating into clashes between Israeli Arabs and the Israel Police and ending in the deaths of demonstrators.The Or Commission was established to investigate the police...

 led to the killing of twelve Israeli-Arabs and one Palestinian by Israel Police
Israel Police
The Israel Police is the civilian police force of Israel. As with most other police forces in the world, its duties include crime fighting, traffic control, maintaining public safety, and counter-terrorism...

 and one Jewish civilian by Israeli Arabs.

Resignation


In 2001 Barak called a special election for Prime Minister. In the contest, he was defeated by Likud leader Ariel Sharon
Ariel Sharon
Ariel Sharon is an Israeli statesman and retired general, who served as Israel’s 11th Prime Minister. He has been in a permanent vegetative state since suffering a stroke on 4 January 2006....

, and subsequently resigned as Labor leader and from the Knesset. He left Israel to work as a senior advisor with United States-based Electronic Data Systems
Electronic Data Systems
HP Enterprise Services is the global business and technology services division of Hewlett Packard's HP Enterprise Business strategic business unit. It was formed by the combination of HP's legacy services consulting and outsourcing business and the integration of acquired Electronic Data Systems,...

. He also partnered with a private equity company focused on "security-related" work.

Return to politics


In 2005, Barak announced his return to Israeli politics, and ran for leadership of the Labor Party in November. However, in light of his weak poll showings, Barak dropped out of the race early and declared his support for veteran statesman Shimon Peres
Shimon Peres
GCMG is the ninth President of the State of Israel. Peres served twice as the eighth Prime Minister of Israel and once as Interim Prime Minister, and has been a member of 12 cabinets in a political career spanning over 66 years...

. Following his failed attempt to maintain leadership of the Labor party, Barak became a partner of the investment company SCP Private Equity Partners, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

. He also established a company "Ehud Barak Limited" which is thought to have made over NIS
Israeli new sheqel
The Israeli New Shekel is the currency of the State of Israel. The shekel is divided into 100 agorot...

 30 million.

After Peres lost the race to Amir Peretz
Amir Peretz
Amir Peretz is an Israeli politician and member of the Knesset for the Labour Party. He is a former Defense Minister of Israel and former leader of the Labour Party, having left those positions in June 2007....

 and left the Labor party, Barak announced he would stay at the party, despite his shaky relationship with its newly elected leader. He declared, however, that he would not run for a spot on the Labor party's Knesset
Knesset
The Knesset is the unicameral legislature of Israel, located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.-Role in Israeli Government :The legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister , approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government...

 list for the March 2006 elections
Israel legislative election, 2006
Elections for the 17th Knesset were held in Israel on 28 March 2006. The voting resulted in a plurality of seats for the then-new Kadima party, followed by the Labour Party, and a major loss for the Likud party....

. Barak's attempt to return to a prominent role in Israel politics seemed to have failed. However, Peretz's hold on the Labor leadership proved unexpectedly shaky as he was badly damaged by negative views of his performance as Defense Minister during the 2006 Lebanon War, which was seen as something less than a success in Israel.

In January 2007 Barak launched a bid to recapture the leadership of the Labor party in a letter acknowledging "mistakes" and "inexperience" during his tenure as Prime Minister. In early March 2007, a poll of Labor Party primary voters put Barak ahead of all other opponents, including Peretz. In the first round of voting, on 28 May 2007, he gained 39% of the votes, more than his two closest rivals, but not enough to win the election.

As a result, Barak faced a runoff against the second-place finisher, Ami Ayalon
Ami Ayalon
Amihai "Ami" Ayalon is an Israeli politician and a former member of the Knesset for the Labor Party. He was previously head of the Shin Bet, Israel's secret service, and commander-in-chief of the Navy...

, on 12 June 2007, which he won by a narrow margin.

Barak has been critical of what he sees as racist sentiments that have recently been expressed by some Israeli rabbis and rebbetzin
Rebbetzin
Rebbitzin or Rabbanit is the title used for the wife of a rabbi, typically from the Orthodox, or Haredi, and Hasidic Jewish groups...

s; he views such statements as a threat to Israeli unity and that they may lead Israeli society into a "dark and dangerous place".

Defense Minister



As head of the Labor Party


After winning back the leadership of the Labor party, Barak was sworn in as Minister of Defense on 18 June 2007, as part of Prime Minister Olmert
Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert is an Israeli politician and lawyer. He served as Prime Minister of Israel from 2006 to 2009, as a Cabinet Minister from 1988 to 1992 and from 2003 to 2006, and as Mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003....

's cabinet reshuffle. However on 1 July 2007, Barak led a successful effort in the Labor central committee to stipulate that Labor would leave the government coalition if Olmert did not resign by September or October 2007. At that time the Winograd Commission
Winograd Commission
The Winograd Commission is an Israeli government-appointed commission of inquiry, chaired by retired judge Eliyahu Winograd, which investigated and drew lessons from the Israel-Hezbollah War...

 would publish its final report on the performance of the Israel Defense Forces
Israel Defense Forces
The Israel Defense Forces , commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym Tzahal , are the military forces of the State of Israel. They consist of the ground forces, air force and navy. It is the sole military wing of the Israeli security forces, and has no civilian jurisdiction within Israel...

 and its civilian leadership. The preliminary Winograd report released earlier this year laid most of the blame on Olmert for poorly planning, executing, and reviewing war strategies in the 2006 conflict against Hezbollah.

During December 2008 through January 2009, Barak led (as defense minister) Operation Cast Lead.

Labor won only 13 out of the 120 Knesset seats in the 2009 elections
Israeli legislative election, 2009
Elections for the 18th Knesset were held in Israel on 10 February 2009. These elections became necessary due to the resignation of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as leader of the Kadima party, and the failure of his successor, Tzipi Livni, to form a coalition government...

, making them the fourth largest party. Barak and other Labor officials initially stated they would not take part in the next government. However, over the objections of some in the Labor party, Barak later reached an agreement under which Labor joined the governing coalition. Barak retained his position as Defense Minister.

Leaving the Labor Party


In January 2011, Labor Party leader Barak formed a breakaway party, Independence
Independence (Israeli political party)
Independence is a recently-established political party in Israel. It was launched by Defense Minister Ehud Barak on 17 January 2011 after he and four other Labour Party MKs announced their secession from the caucus...

, which enabled him to maintain his loyal Labor's MK faction within Netanyahu's government, and prevented the departure of Labor party as a whole from Netanyahu's coalition-government. Labor previously threatened to force Barak to do so. After Barak's move, Netanyahu was able to maintain a majority of 66 MK (out 120 in the Knesset
Knesset
The Knesset is the unicameral legislature of Israel, located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.-Role in Israeli Government :The legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister , approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government...

), previously having 74 MKs within his majority coalition.

In February 2011, Barak attended a ceremony at the UN for the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. Barak told the UN General Assembly: “an independent, strong, thriving and peaceful State of Israel is the vengeance of the dead. On this day, when we remember the six million victims, let us also remember two lessons: first, ‘the Holocaust – never again.’ And second – an independent, strong, thriving and peaceful State of Israel is the vengeance of the dead.”

Barak stated during an American television interview that he would “probably" strive for nuclear weapons if he were in Iran’s position, adding "I don’t delude myself that they are doing it just because of Israel.” This comment has been criticized and compared to Barak's comment in 1998 during a television interview when he said that if he were a Palestinian he would probably have joined one of the terror organizations.

See also


  • List of Israel's Chiefs of the General Staff

External links