Born in Israel in 1944, Barnea served in the IDF in the paratroopers brigade and continued to serve on reserve duty as a paratrooper until 1992. He earned a B. A. in history and political science from The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where he is now a member of the board.
Since 1989, Barnea has been the chief columnist of Yedioth Ahronoth, covering every step in the peace process, interviewing all the players, including three American Presidents (Clinton, Bush and Obama), two Palestinian Presidents (Arafat and Abass) and every Israeli leader, covering international conferences and world events. Barnea reported from New York on 9/11 and from Port-Au-prince on the Haiti earthquake. In 2006 he was one of the few reporters who went into Lebanon during the second Lebanon war. His call to the government of Israel to accept the ceasefire, based on what he has seen on the ground had a tremendous influence.
Barnea was awarded the Sokolov Prize for journalism in 1981, and in 2008 the Maria Grazia Cutuli International Prize for Journalism, a prize which was founded by the Italian daily “Curriera Della Sera”.
According to a survey in 1998, he was considered the most influential journalist of the first 50 years of the State of Israel.
Barnea has published three books, all collections of his columns. In 2006, the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at The Brookings Institution published his essay, “Backchannel: Bush, Sharon and The Uses of Unilateralism”.
Barnea is married and is the father of three children.