Defense Minister Ehud Barak is marrying the sweetheart of his youth, more than 40 years after they met. The Maariv newspaper reported Thursday that Barak, who got divorced four years ago, would marry Nili Priel on Friday in a small ceremony at their exclusive Tel Aviv apartment complex attended by family and close friends. Preparations for the modest wedding were conducted under a veil of secrecy, one of the invitees told the paper, in a covert manner reminiscent of Barak's days as a commando and military chief. Barak's office did not immediately return calls seeking confirmation. Labor Chairman Barak, 65, was elected as Israel's 10th premier in 1999. His wife at the time, Nava, was popular with the public and was widely credited with softening his gruff, aloof persona. In 2003, two years after Barak suffered a crushing election defeat, the pair - who have three grown daughters - shocked the country when they announced they were splitting after 34 years of marriage. Barak then went on to a lucrative career in private business. During this time, he was reacquainted with Priel, whom he knew from his days as a young recruit, and the two began dating. Priel, a 63-year-old public relations executive who has grown children of her own, has recently taken on a higher profile, appearing alongside Barak in public. Barak ended his political exile earlier this year, recapturing the leadership of the Labor party and taking over the defense ministry. Analysts predicted that the wedding was another step in Barak's attempted comeback to Israel's top post. Israel has never had a divorced bachelor as prime minister, though Benjamin Netanyahu was married to his third and current wife when he was elected in 1996. Ariel Sharon was already widowed when he came to power in 2001.