TEL AVIV (Nov. 26)
A tough 48-year-old career soldier who believes Israel has to talk to its enemies will be the Israel Defense Force’s next chief of staff.
The elevation of Maj. Gen. Ehud Barak to the country’s highest military office was announced after the regular Cabinet meeting Sunday.
The much-decorated veteran of nearly 30 years’ IDF service will take over from incumbent Gen. Dan Shomron on April 1, the start of the new military year, when Shomron’s term is up.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir expressed appreciation to Shomron for his service on behalf of the Cabinet.
The naming of Barak elicited no surprise. Barak was a serious contender for the position of chief of staff as far back as 1987 when Shomron got the nod. Barak was promised then that he would be seriously considered as next in line.
Although Barak is known to dislike giving interviews, he has stated publicly that Israel must talk to its enemies.
At a recent memorial service for the late Moshe Dayan, who was IDF chief of staff, defense minister and foreign minister during his career, Barak said, “We are currently in a struggle with the Palestinians. A long, bitter and continuing struggle. A man does not choose his parents, and a people cannot chose its neighbors.
“But we will have to talk to the Palestinians about matters, especially about subjects that are vital to them.”
Drafted into the IDF at the age of 18, Barak served in an elite reconnaissance corp and was later transferred to the tank corps. He was frequently decorated for bravery, though many of the actions he took part in remain classified.
Barak was born in 1942 at Kibbutz Mishmar Hasharon. He has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a master’s degree from Stanford University in California.