Barakeh was born in Shefa-'Amr on July 29, 1955. He studied mathematics at Tel Aviv University, where he first became politically active in the late 1970s and early 1980s as the head of the Association of Arab Students in Israel and as one of the founders and a major activist for CAMPUS (Student Social and Political Involvement Group) which united left-wing Jewish and Arab students who opposed the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and advocated for full equality of Arabs in Israel. He also hosted the planning meeting for the first demonstration against the Lebanon War in June 1982 at his apartment in downtown Tel Aviv.
After university, Barakeh returned to his hometown and became politically active in the local Maki branch.
Barakeh was first elected to the Knesset in 1999, then was re-elected in 2003 and 2006. Since 2003 he has served as the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset.
Barakeh is married and has three children.