Labor's Avital says Peretz supports her bid for presidency

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October 22, 2006 01:42
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Labor MK Colette Avital said Saturday that she had secured the support of Defense Minister Amir Peretz in her bid for the presidency. Avital is considered a dark horse candidate as most of her fellow lawmakers appear to be supporting Vice Premier Shimon Peres or Likud MK Reuven Rivlin. The backing of Labor chairman Peretz may help Avital make a real bid for the presidency, said a spokesman for Avital. "I would love to become Israel's first female president," said Avital, adding that she wanted to redefine the post to be more "people-friendly." Sources close to Avital said she was the only "serious" candidate. They knocked Peres for being "too old" and Rivlin for "not being serious enough." They also said Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau should not be considered for the position, since he could "not shake hands with half of Israel's population." Avital has garnered the public support of Education Minister Yuli Tamir, Science and Technology Minister Ophir Pines-Paz, and MKs Ami Ayalon, Nadia Hilu, Matan Vilna'i and Avishay Braverman, all from the Labor Party If President Moshe Katsav does not resign amid accusations of sexual misconduct, his term will end in July. Avital intends to meet with the heads of all the parties in the Knesset, including with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, to ask for their support. Peres has declined to announce his candidacy, although sources close to him said that he had "sent out feelers" in an attempt to learn if he could garner a majority in the legislature. "We have a functioning president, and I do not feel it is appropriate to discuss the next presidential race until the current situation is resolved," said Peres. Peres said there was no "campaign headquarters for Peres-for-President," but MK Yoram Marciano (Labor) and Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik (Kadima) have been campaigning for Peres in the Knesset.

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