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Will Peres Return to the Knesset in 2014?

Reports surface that Israel's president has no plans to retire and will form a new party when his presidency ends in 2014.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 11/12/2013, 6:13 AM

President Shimon Peres
President Shimon Peres
Flash 90

There’s just no stopping Israel’s 90-year-old President, Shimon Peres.

Reports surfaced over the weekend that Peres will not hang up his hat when his term as President concludes in 2014. Instead, according to Channel One’s political commentator Ayala Hasson, Peres plans to return to the Knesset.

According to Hasson, Peres has recently said in closed conversations that he had no intention of retiring from politics at the end of his presidency and that he still wants to have an influence on Israeli public life.

She further reported that Peres plans to establish a new political party with other well-known Israelis, including former Mossad chief Meir Dagan and former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin, along with other prominent businessmen and social activists.

Both Dagan and Diskin have been vocal critics of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s policies regarding Iran, Syria and the peace process with the Palestinian Authority. Peres and Netanyahu have clashed as well as Peres has overstepped his boundaries several times and intervened in diplomacy issues, despite the fact that the office of president in Israel is devoid of political powers.

Other recent reports said that Peres would seek another seven-year term as President. This would require a legislative change, as under the current law, the President is to serve a single seven year term.

Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) responded on Monday to the reports about Peres’s supposed plans for the coming years.

Hotovely told Arutz Sheva that the speculations about Peres running for another term as President were a “baseless spin”.

She added that the possibility that one person would have a monopoly on the role of President should be removed from the agenda, adding that Peres is a controversial person and thus should not be allowed to have such a monopoly.

Hotovely also dismissed the reports of Peres planning to form a new party, saying such speculations have been raised many times over the years and are best to be ignored.

She added that it would be foolish to establish yet another center-left party in Israel, noting the failures of similar parties such as Kadima and the decline in the popularity of Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid.

"There already is a centrist party and its name is Yesh Atid,” said Hotovely, adding, “The decline in Yesh Atid’s popularity is not only because the Finance Minister constantly reveals his lack of proficiency when it comes to issues associated with his ministry, but also because the public understands that there is something hollow in a party that has no roots and whose members do not have a world of common values.”

She called for a return to what she termed “the basic and most fundamental values. A political party is first and foremost a way and people who share that way.”