In a campaign video released Sunday, former Prime Minister and again candidate Ehud Barak laid out his social vision for Israel. Among the features: Free universal education for all children, from age 0 through 18 – and civil marriage.
As Prime Minister in 1999, Barak said, he had ended the Lebanon War, “which had been bleeding us for years. I promised in 1999 I would bring our boys home, and I did. There were plenty of people opposed, but I promised and I kept my promise. Today, I promise to bring democracy back to Israel.”
That entails a series of commitments, among them setting an official border for Israel. “We will set Israel’s borders within two years, these borders will ensure a clear Jewish majority for generations to come,” said Barak. He did not say whether those borders would be negotiated, or whether Israel would unilaterally declare them. In either case, Israel would have no control or possibility of entering the resulting entity to ensure security or make arrests.
Regarding social policy, Barak said that he would ensure free education, including at day-care centers, and promised “no waiting for care in emergency rooms.” In addition, he said he would lower the cost of living by 20%. The video did not elaborate on how this would take place, and no mention of new taxes was made.
Regarding the role of religion in the state, Barak said he would eliminate it to as great an extent as possible. “We will say yes to Judaism and no to religious coercion. We will end the efforts in the education system to brainwash children into becoming religious. We will establish civil marriage within a year, as well as implement public transportation on Shabbos throughout the country, he added.