The former prime minister told Maariv that the late Ariel Sharon was very clear when he told ministers Israel’s end goal was to drive PLO into Jordan but they “didn’t understand or pretend not to.”
By JERUSALEM POST STAFF MAY 2, 2020 04:32
Ehud Barak speaks at a press conference with his Israel Democratic Party. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)
Former prime minister Ehud Barak gave an interview to Maariv, the sister publication of the Jerusalem Post, and explained that the goal of the First Lebanon War was to drive the PLO out of Lebanon and into Jordan.
The Israeli hope was that the PLO would have “learned the lessons of Black September (1970)”, when it clashed with Jordanian forces and was forced to leave Jordan – turning Jordan into the de facto Palestinian state, he said.
Israel is currently marking 20 years since the IDF pulling out of south-east Lebanon, a decision taken and carried out by Barak when he was prime minister.
The First Lebanon War is usually seen as Israel’s attempt to aid Lebanese Christians in that country’s Civil War in order to gain a regional ally. The plan being that a Christian-dominated Lebanon would have been supportive of the Jewish state as two minority-countries in the region.
This hope ended when the Christian President of Lebanon Bachir Gemayel was assassinated in September 1982. The Lebanese Civil War raged until 1989 when the Taif Agreement was signed and thanks to Syrian Military operations that removed Michel Aoun’s forces from the country.
Israelis, who were told the object of the war was to remove PLO forces from south-east Lebanon and end terrorist attacks and the shelling of communities there, now learn from Barak that Ariel Sharon, who served as Defense Minister at the time, actually planned to turn Jordan into the Palestinian State.
Barak told Maariv that he used to think he was the only one aware that Sharon had this plan but the late Uri Avneri, who was the editor of the radical Left-leaning weekly HaOlam Haze was also aware of it and wrote of it in his publication.
“The idea was to use the pretext of Palestinian terror, which they (the PLO) were providing us with, to attack them in south Lebanon and turn that into a leverage [Israel can use] and join the Christian (forces) in Beirut,” Barak explained.
“The assumption was that they (the PLO) will have to return to Jordan and unlike what happened in 1970 (when they were routed out by the Jordanian Army) this time they will be ready and take over the government.”
“And in that way Zion is redeemed,” Barak said, “in Jordan a Palestinian state will be created and the conflict could be resolved.”
Barak further said that after the First Lebanon War many of the ministers involved with it claimed Sharon had conned them into approving the military operation without fully understanding what they were agreeing to.
Barak said that this is not true, “Sharon was a very sophisticated man” he explained who “spoke to the protocol”. Meaning he was making sure the official protocol would record him saying these things exactly for a scenario in which he’ll be blamed for a debacle and have to face questions.
“They either did not understand him or chose not to understand him.”
As Israel was unable to reach its first goal, that of forming a Christian-dominated Lebanon, it was unable to achieve the goal of driving the PLO into Jordan. The PLO was forced to leave Lebanon in 1982 to North Africa, from which it was able to return to the Gaza Strip when the Oslo Peace Accords were signed.
According to Barak, he objected to the concept of creating an Israeli controlled zone in south-east Lebanon as early as 1985 but was over-ruled by those in command. Which is why he had to carry out his convictions only in 2000 when he was serving as prime minister and had the authority to do so.
The Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon was seen by Hezbollah as a success story, despite the Taif agreement which demanded that all militias in Lebanon disarm and a national army replace them Hezbollah did not disarm and is still active. Despite the fact Israel is no longer present on Lebanese soil.