Ties to billionaire and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein could deliver a serious blow to former prime minister's political comeback
Ehud Barak, Israel’s 10th prime minister, was born the eldest of four brothers on Kibbutz Mishmar Hasharon on February 12, 1942. In 1959, at the age of 17, he enlisted in the IDF, and accepted into Israel’s most elite commando unit, Sayeret Matkal. He would later go on to command the unit.
As a soldier, the young Barak quickly distinguished himself for his ingenuity, bravery and coolness under fire. He participated in a number of publicized commando operations, most notably when he led a raid inside Beirut disguised as a woman.
Barak also helped plan the hostage rescue operation at Entebbe, Uganda in 1976, and led the hostage rescue attempt on a hijacked Sabena airliner while disguised as a plane mechanic. In the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Barak commanded a tank regiment which, among other things, helped rescue a beleaguered paratrooper battalion suffering heavy losses in the Chinese Farm in the Sinai Desert.
Barak went on to serve as head of military intelligence, and was later appointed by then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin as the Chief of General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces. He retired from military life in 1995 after 35 years of service, by which time he had become Israel’s most decorated soldier.
During his time in the army, Barak earned a B.A. in Physics and Mathematics from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and then a M.A. in Economic Engineering Systems from Stanford University.
Immediately following his military service, Barak joined the Labor Party. As a politician, Barak served as Minister of the Interior and then as Minister of Foreign Affairs when Shimon Peres replaced the slain Yitzhak Rabin as prime minister.
He was elected to the Knesset in 1996, where he served as a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. In 1996, after Peres lost the premiership to Benjamin Netanyahu, Barak became the leader of the Labor Party.
In 1999, Barak defeated Netanyahu in national elections, becoming Israel’s 10th prime minister. His most significant act as prime minister was to order the withdrawal of all IDF troops from Southern Lebanon, effectively ending Israel’s controversial 17-year presence there. The move was heralded by many as a brave and long-overdue decision, while others harshly criticized it, for its perceived security threat, and for the manner of its overnight execution.
Barak also attempted, and failed, to reach a peace agreement with Syria. At the Camp David Summit in 2000, mediated by then-U.S. president Bill Clinton, Barak met with PLO leader Yasser Arafat. The talks failed and shortly afterwards the Second Intifada broke out, unleashing an unprecedented wave of terror attacks against Israelis.
In 2001, against the backdrop of failed peace negotiations and escalating Palestinian violence, Barak was soundly defeated by Ariel Sharon of the Likud in elections for prime minister, which Barak himself had called.
After several years in the private sector, Barak returned to politics in 2005, but dropped out of the race to lead the Labor Party after polls showed he was unpopular with voters. In 2007, he made yet another attempt to regain control of the Labor Party, and succeeded in June of that year. Shortly thereafter, he was sworn in as minister of defense by then-prime minister Ehud Olmert.
As defense minister, Barak oversaw Operation Cast Lead, a three-week IDF campaign inside the Gaza Strip launched in the wake of ongoing rocket fire from the coastal territory at civilian targets inside southern Israel. The operation was viewed by most Israelis as a well-executed and necessary military act of defense, but came under international criticism for what was seen as excessive and disproportionate use of force inside the densely populated Gaza Strip.
In the 2009 elections, the Barak-led Labor Party won only 13 out of 120 Knesset seats, relegating Israel's once strongest party to the fourth largest. Much of the blame for the historic loss of mandates was directed at Barak, who continued to disappoint many Labor purists by agreeing to keep the party in a Likud-led government in exchange for the defense portfolio.
Former Israeli PM calls Daily Mail report 'blood libel,' as lawyers demand U.K. tabloid retract article and pay damages over photos at convicted sex offender's New York home
The newspaper published a photo of the former PM entering convicted sex offender's home in 2016 with his face concealed alongside pictures of four women whom it said also entered the house that day ■ Barak: I reject these 'loathsome' insinuations
Union of Meretz, Labor and Ehud Barak's party is projected to only shuffle two seats within the center-left bloc
Ex-premier tells Daily Beast he never attended a party with Jeffrey Epstein, who invested in the company controlled by Barak and faces sex trafficking charges
'It’s clear that if there’s some kind of union, it will only be with [Labor leader] Amir Peretz leading it. There’s no question about it, we are unanimous. Barak’s leadership isn’t on the agenda,' the source said
Epstein invested millions of dollars in Carbyne, an Israeli start-up company in which former prime minister and current election candidate Ehud Barak is the controlling shareholder
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Epstein bankrolled a considerable part of Barak's investment in a startup called Reporty Homeland Security ■ Barak: These are private investments, it wouldn't be proper to expose details
Talks between Amir Peretz and Ehud Barak are part of contacts underway to unite the left-wing bloc ahead of the September 17 election
Ehud Barak, Meretz and Labor are mulling the option of joining forces, but there is concern that two parties running together could sink the third
The question that Israelis now have to ask themselves is whether they would want Gantz, Barak or Ya’alon as chief of staff after seeing their abilities in civilian life
Ehud Barak meanwhile says he hasn’t ruled out joining forces with Labor and is willing to be second on a joint slate
Wealthy businessman Jeffrey Epstein was arrested on sex trafficking charges Saturday
Former prime minister's party will be called 'Yisrael Democratit,' meaning democratic Israel
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The former PM, who just made his own comeback, was banking on one of the younger candidates to win so their parties could merge – making him the undisputed leader
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Ex-coalition whip Amsalem will replace Ayoub Kara, who resigned last week after it was revealed that he auditioned for a reality TV show while serving as minister
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While Netanyahu had the entire political establishment chasing its tail this week, Ehud Barak came back – and with a vengeance. Will he spoil Gantz's party?
Israel has the R&D prowess and global demand is growing, but if there’s really gold in them thar spliffs, others will probably get it
With perfect timing, the former prime minister parachutes directly into his anxious successor’s attempted constitutional putsch