Former Minister Peretz: Hope Ego Won't Prevent Forming Center-left Bloc

Knesset member refuses to say whether he will run on the Hatnuah ticket in upcoming elections.

Jacob Kornbluh
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MK Amir Peretz speaking from the Knesset podium.
MK Amir Peretz speaking from the Knesset podium. Credit: Emil Salman
Jacob Kornbluh

MK Amir Peretz, a member of Justice Minister Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah party, on Monday said that Israel is likely headed to elections and criticized the Netanyahu government for its latest moves that led to the current political crisis.

Speaking to a room full of donors, dignitaries and pro-Israel supporters at the America-Israel Friendship League's annual awards dinner in Manhattan, N.Y., Peretz said: “When I accepted your invitation I was a cabinet minister. Today, I am a former minister. When I resigned from the government two weeks ago, I said that this government will not exist [for too long] and is leading to nowhere.”

“Now, we are headed to elections, as I imagined,” Peretz said, after receiving an award for his part in developing the Iron Dome defense missile program. “In Israel, it’s not simple or an easy decision to resign from government. But throughout my entire life I have been guided by my inner truth and integrity.”

Peretz, who served as Minister of Environmental Protection resigned on November 9 from the government following harsh criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s conduct on diplomatic issues. “Instead of the steering the ship and looking for solutions, you’re looking for someone to blame,” he told Netanyahu at the weekly cabinet meeting before handing him his letter of resignation. “It’s the prime minister’s job to rise above personal criticism and political considerations, and to show responsibility to Israel’s citizens.”

In a conversation with JP, Peretz expressed his desire to see the Knesset disperse so that Israelis go to the polls to elect a new government as early as March, 2015. “I believe that the elections will be held in March, and after that form a better government,” he said.

Peretz refused to indicate whether he will run on the Hatnuah party list, simply saying, “We will have a discussion and see where we are heading from here. Maybe we will have to consider merging with some of the major parties.” He did, however, suggest that the center-left parties – Labor, Yesh Atid, Kadima and Hatnuah – should establish a “united front” with the goal of preventing the formation of a Likud/right/religious majority, headed by Netanyahu after the elections.

“I hope that all the major players will decide together who will lead this faction,” he said. “I hope that this time the question of who is the head will not dismantle the bloc, since in the past, personal ego prevented us from doing what is really important for Israel. I hope that this time we will be successful.”

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