Aiming to unite with left, Barak apologizes for deaths of Arab rioters in October 2000

Meretz party’s Arab parliamentarian says that Barak’s apology is an “opening” to future cooperation.

By World Israel News Staff 

Former prime minister Ehud Barak, who has returned to politics and is running in the September 17 Knesset election, has issued an apology for the deaths of 13 Israeli Arabs in October 2000, when he served as premier and defense minister.

It was a volatile period after the failure of the Camp David summit of the summer of 2000. The 13 Arabs died during violent clashes with Israeli police.

According to American and Israeli accounts, Barak offered to divide sovereignty over the Old City of Jerusalem and hand over nearly all of Judea and Samaria to a Palestinian state, but his offer was not accepted. Instead, the Second Intifada broke out.

“I express regret and an apology to the families and the [Arab] society,” Barak said on Tuesday in an interview with Kan public radio. “There is no place for demonstrators getting killed by the fire of security forces,” he said.

The violence marked the beginning of what became known as the Second Intifada (Uprising). Between 2000 and 2005, some one thousand Israelis were murdered in Palestinian terror attacks.

In 2001, Sharon defeated Barak in an election for prime minister.

After a break of several years from political life, Barak announced in June that he would be running in the upcoming parliamentary election, stressing the need to unseat Benjamin Netanyahu, who has served as prime minister since 2009, including a period when Barak returned to the post of defense minister.

Barak is hoping to be a part of a center-left bloc that could create a governing majority in the next Knesset that would end Netanyahu’s reign, which has also included a term from 1996 to 1999, as longest-serving prime minister in Israeli history. Among the parties that would be a part of such a coalition is Meretz.

MK Issawi Frej, a Meretz Arab parliamentarian, said that Barak’s apology on Tuesday was an “opening” to future cooperation.