Peres's next steps towards Beit Hanassi

The election of Peres as president is likely to also mean replacing some staffers currently working at his future residence.

Knesset Speaker and Acting President Dalia Itzik announced in the Knesset on Wednesday following the election of Vice Premier Shimon Peres as Israel's ninth president, that he is no longer a member of Knesset. But until July 16, when Peres is officially sworn in, he will not be the president, either. According to presidential political adviser Avi Granot, he remains the president-elect until that date. Meanwhile, Itzik will continue to function as acting president and is due to preside over next week's swearing-in of more than 30 new judges. In mid-July, it will be Itzik, and not suspended President Moshe Katsav, who will participate in the changing-of-the-guard ceremony with Peres. Katsav will not return to office even on his final day, though he will return to Beit Hanassi in the next few weeks to collect personal effects. In the interim, Peres will send a staff team to learn how Beit Hanassi operates. Beit Hanassi staff members have produced background literature about what each job entails and about who does what. Peres will not be able to retain the services of Granot, because Granot is going to Helsinki in October as Israel's ambassador to Finland. The president-elect may also wish to select an adviser on Diaspora affairs to replace Akiva Tor, who returned to the Foreign Ministry several months ago. Any Beit Hanassi staffer not on contract can be replaced immediately, said Granot, while those people who are on contracts can be replaced only at the beginning of 2008, because contracts at Beit Hanassi run from January 1 to December 31. Peres is no stranger to Beit Hanassi. He has held more than 25 ministerial portfolios since 1969. As minister in a new government, Peres came to that government's inaugural celebration at Beit Hanassi. As prime minister and acting prime minister he had frequent meetings with sitting presidents, and in his other ministerial capacities he also met with presidents. He has also been invited to numerous receptions at Beit Hanassi. Given Peres's standing in the world, it can be anticipated that next year - Israel's 60th anniversary - many foreign leaders will accept invitations for state visits to Israel. Many have already met Peres in his various ministerial or opposition leader roles, but not at Beit Hanassi.