Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak Flash90

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak may be preparing for a return to politics, four-and-a-half years after he stepped down as Defense Minister and left the Knesset, Israel Hayom reported on Tuesday.

According to the report, Barak and Zionist Union chief Avi Gabbay have been in talks recently regarding the former Prime Minister’s return to political life and his possible inclusion in the Zionist Union’s Knesset list for the next election.

While no official statement has been made regarding his return to politics, Barak and Gabbay are reportedly laying the groundwork for the former Israeli commander in chief turned politician to be given a “safe” seat on the party’s Knesset list without having to run in the primaries.

The arrangement would involve Barak agreeing not to challenge Gabbay in future leadership races in exchange for a high position on the party’s Knesset list. Barak would also lead a new committee of security experts to advise Gabbay – to be called the “security cadre”.

In this framework, were Gabbay to be elected as Prime Minister, Barak would likely be appointed Defense Minister, a position he held from 2007 to 2013 under Prime Ministers Ehud Olmert and Binyamin Netanyahu.

Israel’s shortest-serving Prime Minister, Barak defeated Binyamin Netanyahu during his first term in May 1999, but was removed from office in a landslide election less than two years later in February 2001. During his term, he ordered the IDF rertreat from the Lebanese buffer security zone it had held for 15 years, paving the way for Hezbollah takeover and, in the words of experts, providing a “tipping point” for jihadist groups across the Middle East who saw the withdrawal as a sign of weakness..

After his 2001 defeat, Barak retired from politics, but returned in 2007, winning back control of the Labor party. He was appointed as Defense Minister by Ehud Olmert later that year, a position he held until the 2013 election.