Former defense minister Amir Peretz said Saturday he would back direct negotiations with Hamas, but that Egypt must in the meantime be allowed to mediate between the two sides. Speaking at a 'Cultural Shabbat' event in Beersheba, Peretz also voiced his support for freeing jailed Fatah leader Marwan Baghouti, saying that his release would prevent the next murder. The former defense minister visited the prisoner, but refused to divulge details about the meeting. Regarding the Labor Party, Peretz accused chairman Ehud Barak of drifting to the right, saying he had lost his place at the head of the peace camp and that Labor's poor showing in the polls was therefore not surprising. Regarding the apparent new investigations against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Peretz called on Labor to wait patiently and not to hastily respond. "I am opposed to Barak's decision to convene the party in order to discuss a response. Politicians don't need to respond to investigations of a prime minister," he said.