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Former Labor Leader Shimon Peres Rumored Heading For Sharon

Labor Leader Peretz May Now Offer Archrival Barak To Join His Team

Shimon Peres (Photo: Amit Shabi)

Some key Israeli politicians are now playing musical chairs as Ariel Sharon's new Kadima party and newly elected Labor leader Amir Peretz prepare to square off in the election campaign. Shimon Peres is the big name, who may be headed to Kadima with some other Labor Knesset members. Such a step would hurt Peretz with some Labor voters.

:: IsraCast Audio ::

What happened? Peres is fuming that Peretz has given him the cold shoulder after his party victory. Remember it was Shimon as Labor leader, who rescued Amir from the political wilderness, and brought him back into Labor. This after Peretz had quit Labor to form his own splinter party that won only three dismal Knesset seats in the former election. Now this was not solely out of the goodness of Peres heart. Peres wanted Peretz back in Labor to counter the drive being mounted by Ehud Barak to take over as party leader. The deal was that Peretz would not run against Peres for party leadership. Well, Peretz did run, ousted his erstwhile benefactor Peres, and the rest is history. After swallowing his pride, Peres then met with Peretz to discuss his future role in Labor. Peretz only offered to kick Peres upstairs; say as fictitious party president. Peres, at age eighty-two, has the drive and energy of a man half his age, so he went to see his old buddy, Ariel Sharon. When presenting his new party, Sharon hinted he was not interested in Peres joining his team. But after losing the prestigious Professor Avishay Braverman to Labor, the PM is now interested in recouping with Peres. Adding more fuel to the fire is Gegee, the brother of Shimon Peres. In a radio interview, Gegee blasted Amir Peretz charging he had betrayed Shimon. Moreover, he compared Peretz to General Franco, in the Spanish Civil War, who created a traitorous Fifth Column and brought in battalions from north Africa to seize power. Whether intended or not, the crack about north Africa has raised charges of racism; Peretz was born in Morocco. Shimon Peres by the way was abroad during the furor and where of all places but in Spain.

Several other Labor MKs, who are not on the Peretz list of favorites, are also considering quitting for Kadima. Paradoxically, this works to the advantage of Ehud Barak who has been an archrival of Peretz in Labor. Peretz needs to stem the hole in the dam. Moreover, if Peretz now sways former IDF Chief of Staff Barak to come aboard, he can field a strong team to face Sharon. So, there is the possibility of a chain reaction. The departure of Peres to Sharon will help Barak who will then bolster Peretz, who Peres brought back into |Labor to torpedo Barak. But who knows? Maybe at the eleventh hour, Peretz will offer Peres an offer he cant refuse.

Footnote: Will Rogers, the American political satirist, once said something like this: I don't tell jokes, I just talk about politicians.

David Essing

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