Barak: Goal of first Lebanon War was to turn Jordan to Palestinian State

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."

Ehud Barak speaks at a press conference with his Israel Democratic Party. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)
Ehud Barak speaks at a press conference with his Israel Democratic Party.
The goal of the First Lebanon War was to drive the PLO out of Lebanon and into Jordan, former prime minister Ehud Barak said in an interview with Maariv, the sister publication of the Jerusalem Post.
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 the country into the de facto Palestinian state, he said.  
Israel is currently marking 20 years since the IDF pulled out of southern Lebanon, a decision taken and carried out by Barak when he was prime minister.  
The First Lebanon War has been seen as Israel’s attempt to aid Lebanese Christians in that country’s Civil War in order to gain a regional ally. The motivation was 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 the Syrian military removed Michel Aoun's forces from the country.   
Israelis, who were told the objective of the war was to remove PLO forces from southern Lebanon and end terrorist attacks as well as the shelling of Israeli communities, now learn from Barak that Ariel Sharon, who served as defense minister in 1982, 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 left-leaning weekly HaOlam Haze was also aware of the plan and wrote about 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 continued. “In Jordan a Palestinian state will be created and the conflict could be resolved.”  
Barak said that after the First Lebanon War many of the ministers involved claimed Sharon had conned them into approving the military operation without fully understanding what they were agreeing to.   
Barak said that this was not true, “Sharon was a very sophisticated man,” who “spoke to the protocol”, meaning that he made sure the official protocol would record him saying exactly what scenario he would be blamed for, and what questions he would potentially face in the future. .
“They either did not understand him or chose not to understand him,” he said.
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.