Peres: Election Will Not Split Labor

Former Foreign Minister Shimon Peres believes that the results of tomorrow's elections will not lead to a split in the Labor party. Speaking on his return from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Peres said that the party is likely to suffer a major shock, but the election results will not result in the party splitting up.

Peres added that the chances of forming a national unity government are slim, because among the top ten Likud candidates there is "only one candidate that supports - perhaps - a Palestinian state, and he is Ariel Sharon. The following nine object to a Palestinian state. This situation cannot provide an infrastructure for a joint venture with Labor."

Peres also said that it is possible that there will be a deadlock in the Knesset, with none of the parties able to form a government.

In a meeting yesterday with reporters working for Russian-language media, Peres, who is the chairman of the party's immigrant steering committee, said that "over the years, Labor has made a mistake by not putting in enough effort into the immigrant sector." He also stressed the great importance of the continuation of immigration to Israel, and said that the Chabad rabbi he met in Davos told him that in Russia alone there are a million potential immigrants.

"We will not let extremist rabbis prevent continued immigration," Peres said. "In a democratic country it should not be possible for rabbis to determine who is a Jew, without the Jews determining who is a rabbi. In my opinion, a youth who joins the IDF and risks his life, is a valid Jew."

Criticizing past governments and the current government, Peres said that the NIS 60 billion invested by the government in the settlements since 1967 "were an investment that caused intifadas," and that the money could have been used to help single-parent families and solve other social issues.