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After a full day of deliberations and contemplation, Labor Party chairman Amir Peretz decided on Wednesday to remain defense minister, calling it his duty to stay.
At a speech in Upper Nazareth, Peretz made no mention of quitting, and told the audience that "no one in Israel, even my greatest detractors, would choose to return to the security situation in the North as it was before the war."
Peretz had considered resigning in order to give himself a political boost ahead of the
May 28 Labor primary. Peretz wanted to quit before Thursday's Tel Aviv demonstration so the protesters would condemn only Olmert and not him.
MKs Yoram Marciano and Shelly Yacimovich, Peretz's top supporters in the Labor faction, called upon him to quit. But advisers Rachel Turjeman, Dedi Suissa and his daughter Shani all urged him to hold onto his job.
Peretz's attorney Boaz Ben-Zur said there was no legal reason to quit due to the Winograd Report, because the report was not as harsh on Peretz as he had expected, and it had actually complimented him.
Thousands of Labor members received email messages from Peretz's campaign on Tuesday informing them of positive quotes about the defense minister in the report. The subject of the letter was, "The parts of Winograd you didn't see."
Peretz told the Nazareth audience that the report did, however, criticize his opponent in the primary, former prime minister Ehud Barak, for withdrawing from Lebanon without an agreement when he was prime minister.
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