Labor Officials Don't Want Peres to Return; Peretz Still May Ask

Peres to fill number two Kadima slot; Livni to be third on list, guaranteed Foreign Ministry portfolio.

Labor Party officials believe that the odds are against getting Shimon Peres to move back from Kadima, and that any attempt by party chairman Amir Peretz to pull in Peres or Ehud Barak by means of reserved slots on the Knesset slate would meet with stiff opposition from party leaders.

Any attempts by Peretz to bring Peres back are likely to prove futile, however, as a Channel 2 report Tuesday evening said Peres will fill the number two spot on Kadima's Knesset list.

Peretz associates confirmed Tuesday that he is under pressure from contestants for the party list not to bring Peres and Barak back to Labor, for fear of losing their place on the party's slate.

However, sources in the party said that Peretz is likely to make a final effort after the party primary to pull Peres and Barak into the party leadership. Peretz indicated as much yesterday, saying that "after the primary, I will weigh considerations of uniting forces from within and outside the party."

Labor is set to officially inaugurate its publicity headquarters Wednesday, the first of its offices to open in the campaign building the party rented in the industrial zone in Yehud. Ironically, the building is located on the town's Yoni Netanyahu street.

Meanwhile, Peretz continued to express outright support for holding Palestinian legislative elections in East Jerusalem.

"If we do not permit them to vote, that would mean that tomorrow we want to see hundreds of thousands of Palestinians voting for Israel's Knesset," Peretz said. "That is the meaning."

He added that banning electoral participation in Jerusalem will wind up strengthening Hamas.

Shelly Yachimovich, the former journalist who is running in the Labor primary, accused the media, Kadima and Likud of deliberately silencing the social-economic discourse that Labor is trying to highlight on the public agenda.

"This discussion threatens them," Yachimovich said. "The media, because it is controled by the rich, who have no interest in high wages for workers or their organizing, and Kadima and Likud, because those at their head created the gaps between poor and rich. They don't have answers or justification for the situation into which we've sunk. That is why there is a fixation and perpetual attempt to return to the tiresome cliches of the political discourse. People don't get up in the morning and think about the Temple Mount or even about the division of Jerusalem, but rather about job security, fair pay and aging with dignity."

Shimon Peres slated for No. 2 spot on Kadima's Knesset listShimon Peres will fill the No. 2 spot on Kadima's Knesset list, Channel 2 reported on Tuesday. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who was hoping for the spot, will be third on the list, behind Peres and Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

However, as compensation, Livni is guaranteed the Foreign Ministry portfolio should Kadima form the next government after the March 28 elections.

Peres said Monday that no signed agreement exists between him and Sharon guaranteeing him a specific position following the elections, but there had been "a serious understanding," which he says he trusts Olmert will honor.

In an interview with Channel 1, Peres said he does not intend to return to the Labor Party, which he left late last year, and he has "no intention of being prime minister, even if such a suggestion is made."