(b. 12 Feb. 1942).
Prime Minister of Israel, 1999–2001 Born in Mishmar Hasharon of Polish immigrants, he joined the military in 1959 and advanced quickly through the ranks of the army. In 1972 he made the headlines through his daring and successful storming of a Belgian airliner in Tel Aviv after it had been hijacked by the PLO. Further such commands followed, including the risky Entebbe raid. He advanced to the military command in the 1980s, and became chief of military intelligence. He left the military in 1995, and became Minister of the Interior under Rabin. A few months later he succeeded Peres as Foreign Minister. One year later, following Netanyahu's election victory which was seen as a defeat of the old guard of the Labour Party, he was elected leader of the opposition.
As Israel's most‐decorated general, the electorate entrusted him with negotiating peace with Arafat in the 1999 elections, when he defeated Netanyahu decisively in 1999. His government, however, enjoyed only a very uncertain majority in parliament. He withdrew the army from southern Lebanon after almost twenty years of occupation. He also rekindled the Wye accord, and resumed negotiations with the Palestinians. However, growing violence by Hamas in the Intifadah led many Israelis to question his judgement. After a series of defections from his government he called new elections, which he lost to Sharon. Barak was subsequently sidelined in the party. In coalition with Olmert's Kadima, Labour shared responsibility for the disastrous war against Hezbollah in 2006. In 2007, Barak won the elections for the party leadership against the Defence Minister in that war, Amir Peretz. Barak thus returned to government, as Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).