Two senior Israeli politicians said Monday night that they had received initial requests from “interested parties” at the President's residence to introduce legislation that would allow President Shimon Peres to run for office again, Channel Two reported. When asked by reporters, a spokesperson for Peres said that it was the other way around – that the politicians had asked for the President's support of such a law.
Under the current law, which was passed before Peres was elected, the President is to serve a single seven year term. Previously, the President served for five years, but was allowed to run for a second term. The legislation in question would allow Peres to serve a second term.
According to the report, there are two contenders for Peres' office: Binyamin Ben Eliezer (Labor) and Reuven Rivlin (Likud). However, the report said, neither Prime Minister and Likud head Biyamin Netanyahu, nor Opposition chairperson and Labor head Shelly Yechimovich, were enthusiastically backing their parties' candidates.
Peres, sources in the Knesset said, was popular with all groups in Israel, so it's likely there would be widespread support for the move. However, sources on the right said that it might not be such a good idea to have Peres serve a second term: The President often speaks about political issues, advocating Israeli territorial withdrawal in order to seal a final status deal with the Palestinian Authority.
“Peres can think or say whatever he wishes – as a private citizen,” said the source. “But when he is President he is required to keep his political opinions to himself, something he has shown himself very incapable of doing.”
Another problem is Peres' age. Peres will be 90 on August 2, which means that when his term is up in July 2014, he will be close to 91; if he serves a full second term, he will remain on as President until age 98. “Although many people disagree with his politics, there is no doubt that Peres has been a good public relations figure for Israel, with world leaders in business and politics praising him for his 'vision,'” said an aide to an MK from a rightwing party.
“But it's a stretch to believe that he will remain in good physical or mental health for the whole of his second term, so the potential for embarrassment, for him and for Israel, is high,” the aide said. “It would be a shame for us, and especially for him, to end his career in a less than respectable manner. If I were Peres, I would think about this very carefully.”