Amir Peretz, the man who ousted Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres as leader of Israel’s Labour party, has announced he will meet with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Sunday to discuss the prospect of an early general election.
Peretz, largely unknown on the international stage, won a rank-and-file ballot picking up 42 percent of the vote to Peres’s 40. Peretz vowed to pull Labour out of Sharon’s coalition government over the latter’s free market policies he claims have worsened the plight of Israel’s poor. Sharon has relied on Labour support to survive parliamentary no-confidence votes. Peres took Labour into Sharon’s government last year to help the country carry out Israel’s forced removal of Jewish settlements. The political future of the 82-year-old Peres, the Nobel peace prize winner and twice prime minister of his country, is unknown. He has been part of Israel’s political landscape for decades and, like Sharon, one of the state’s founding generation.