EHUD BARAK AND
THE COLLAPSE OF THE
Ehud Barak was elected as Israel's prime minister on May 17, 1999; on July 6 he presented his coalition government to the Knesset. He had conducted his election campaign as Yitzhak Rabin's heir—a high-ranking military man and a former chief of staff of the IDF—who went into politics in order to provide Israel with peace embedded in a solid new security regime.1 But as prime minister, Barak adopted a style radically different from Rabin's. Rabin moderated his bold decisions through his preference for gradualism; Barak sought to cut the Arab-Israeli Gordian knot with one bold stroke. He concluded that the phased approach to Israeli-Arab peacemaking had run its course, and acted out of a deeply held conviction that the failure to reach a swift comprehensive Arab-Israeli settlement would inevitably lead to a large-scale collision.
Barak set a formidable challenge for himself by formulating ambitious goals and a brief timetable in his public