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MER FLASHBACK FROM 3 YEARS AGO:
ISRAELI GENERAL WHO CRUSHED INTIFADA
NOW HEADS LABOR PARTY
ARAFAT SENDS HIS CONGRATULATIONS
"Barak devised many of the tactics used to
combat the Palestinian uprising."
MER - Washington - 6/9/97:
The main difference between Labor and Likud in Israel has always been stylistic and rhetorical. In actuality, the two siamese-twin wings of the Israeli Zionist establishment have always pursued the same basic overall policies -- and the long-line of coalition "unity" governments attests to that reality. Both Rabin and Peres served faithfully as Ministers in governments headed by Likud Prime Ministers. Hence Benjamin Netanyahu recent announcement that his own vision of a "final settlement" with the Palestinians should be called the "ALLON-PLAN PLUS" -- referring to the Labor Foreign Minister of the 1960s who initially devised the concept of Israeli control and Palestinian "autonomy" -- is no real surprise.
Yasser Arafat was quick to send Barak's his personal congratulations upon learning that he had taken the helm of the Labor Party from his former pal Shimon Peres. Indeed, the only ones who might be surprised to know how similarly Barak and Netanyahu think may well be Arafat and friends -- for those who know them are amazed how little tbey know about Israeli and Zionist history; and how little they understand about the agreements they have signed. Now that former General Ehud Barak is head of the Labor Party and quite likely the next Israeli Prime Minister, its important to know his background.
These excerpts from a recent Reuter's feature are very useful in that regard:
BARAK ASSASSINATED ABU JIHAD
AND CRUSHED THE INTIFADA
[JERUSALEM - Reuter, 6/97]
A former army chief with 35 years military service under his belt, Barak is eight years Netanyahu's senior. He commanded Netanyahu when they were elite commandos years ago. Like his assassinated mentor, Barak has a blunt demeanor popular with Israelis.
In 1995 he left the army. He joined Rabin's government as interior minister and served as foreign minister under Peres...
Barak's image contrasts sharply with that of Peres, regarded by many Israelis as too soft on security. Even Rabin's widow Leah has called Barak heir to the legacy of her late husband, who was army chief in the 1967 Six-Day War.
Barak made a name for himself in 1973 when, as a commando posing as a woman, he took part in a foray into Beirut during which three PLO leaders were killed. Military sources said Barak devised many of the tactics used to combat the Palestinian uprising. On the eve of his leaving the army, Barak took pride in the deaths of 10 of 12 most-wanted guerrillas and vowed his forces would hunt the others down.
Foreign sources have said that in a bid to snuff out the revolt in its early days Barak planned and commanded the 1988 raid in Tunis during which PLO military commander Khalil al-Wazir, better known as Abu Jihad, was killed. But he opposed trying to crush the revolt with unrestrained force and warned rampaging Jewish settlers against taking the law into their own hands.
As a member of Labor, Barak favors swapping land for peace with both Palestinians and Syria. While army chief, Barak oversaw the first handovers of occupied land to Palestinians under peace deals with the PLO. He helped clinch peace with Jordan in 1994. He met his Syrian counterpart for unproductive security talks in Washington...
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