Thursday, December 01, 2005

Shimon Peres throws his support to Sharon

Ending a week of speculation, former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres quit the Labor Party-- his political party of six decades-- yesterday to campaign for Ariel Sharon's new centrist party. The 82-year-old Peres, who has held every major Cabinet position, left Labor after his humiliating loss to union leader Amir Peretz in the race for party leader three weeks ago. He said he was supporting Sharon because he had the best chance of restarting the peace process with the Palestinians. New York Times and Washington Post report:

NY Times - Peres Hails Sharon's Leadership as He Supports New Party:

The move was widely anticipated. Still, it adds to the sense that a major political realignment is under way, with consequences that will shape Middle East peace efforts for years to come.
The dovish Mr. Peres, 82, and the hawkish Mr. Sharon, 77, have often worked together in coalition governments despite their political differences. But this is the first time they have headed into an election under the same banner, with the aim of creating a broad consensus on how to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It is not clear how many votes he might draw to Mr. Sharon's party.
Still, his endorsement of Mr. Sharon as a leader who is serious about settling the conflict with the Palestinians could sway some centrist and liberal voters who would not have considered voting for Mr. Sharon in the past...

Washington Post - Peres Quits Labor, Endorses Sharon:

Peres's departure, the latest turn in his nearly five-decade career in Israeli party politics, leaves Labor without its most recognizable figure, and largely concludes a shift in Israeli politics triggered by Sharon's decision to withdraw from the Gaza Strip earlier this year. It also means that the next Israeli parliament, scheduled to be elected March 28, will be the first since the 1950s without Peres as a member.His endorsement, which infuriated veteran Labor officials, could enhance Sharon's centrist credentials at a time when the prime minister is seeking recruits to his new party, known as Kadima...