Amir Peretz: Wikis

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Amir Peretz
2006 05 10 Peretz cropped.JPG
Date of birth 9 March 1952 (1952-03-09) (age 57)
Place of birth Boujad, Morocco
Year of aliyah 1956
Knessets 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18
Party Labour Party (1988-1999, 2004-)
Former parties One Nation (1999-2004)
Ministerial posts
(current in bold)
Minister of Defence
Deputy Prime Minister

Amir Peretz (Hebrew: עמיר פרץ‎, Arabic: عمير بيريتز‎; born Armand Peretz on 9 March 1952) is an Israeli politician and member of the Knesset for the Labour Party. He is a former Defense Minister of Israel and former leader of the Labour Party, having left those positions in June 2007.

Peretz is the former chairman of the Histadrut trade union federation and defeated Shimon Peres in the primary elections for the Labour leadership on 9 November 2005. He led the Labour Party to a second place showing in the 2006 elections and became Defense Minister on 4 May 2006. He was defeated by Ehud Barak for the Labour leadership on 12 June 2007 and resigned from the cabinet.

Contents

Early life

Peretz was born as Armand Peretz in the town of Boujad in Morocco. His father was head of the Jewish community in Boujad and owned a petrol station. The family emigrated to Israel when Morocco won independence in 1956. They were settled in the development town of Sderot, where Peretz graduated from high school.

He served in the Israel Defense Forces as the brigade Ordnance officer of the 202nd paratroopers brigade and reached the rank of captain. On 22 April 1974, Peretz was badly wounded as a result of an accident at the Mitla Pass. He spent a year in the hospital recuperating. After leaving the hospital, he bought a farm in the village of Nir Akiva. Still in a wheelchair, he began growing vegetables and flowers for export. During this period he met his wife Ahlama and they married. They have four children.

In 1983, answering a call made by friends, Peretz ran for the office of mayor of the town of Sderot, as candidate of the Israel Labour Party. At only thirty years of age he won a victory which ended a long period of dominance of the town's politics by the right-wing Likud party and the National Religious Party. It was the first in a series of local councils which passed back to Labour control in the late 1980s. As mayor, he strongly emphasized education and worked to improve previously fractious relations with the kibbutzim in the area.

Histadrut and One Nation

In 1988 he was elected a member of the Knesset. In 1994, after failing in a previous bid for Histadrut leadership, Peretz joined forces with Haim Ramon to contest control of the then powerful trade union federation. They ran on an independent list against the favoured candidate of then Labour leader Yitzhak Rabin. They won, and Peretz became Ramon's deputy at the Histadrut. This isolated Peretz within the Labour Party. He became chairman of Histadrut in December 1995, when Ramon reentered the cabinet following Rabin's assassination. During his early years at the helm of the Histadrut, Peretz was regarded as a militant firebrand, with an easy hand on the trigger of general strikes. Sometimes the pretext for declaring a general strike would be an inopportune statement by the finance minister, as had been the case with Ya'akov Ne'eman in 1996.

However, in his later years as head of Histadrut, Peretz was seen as becoming much more moderate, as he moved toward a potential run for national office. During the tenure of Benjamin Netanyahu as finance minister (February 2003-August 2005), Peretz was fairly cooperative with the government in a series of structural and financial reforms that moved Israel towards a more market-oriented economy. He has remarked that "the most effective strike is the one that didn't occur".

In 1999 Peretz resigned from the Labour Party to form his own party, One Nation. The party won two seats in the Knesset in the 1999 elections, and three in 2003. As Labour's fortunes changed with the Likud Party in government, and Israel's social programmes being dismantled by the market-oriented reforms of finance minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Peretz became increasingly popular with Israel's working-class. By the start of 2004 he was being talked of as a "white knight who will rescue Labour from oblivion". After protracted negotiations with then-Labour Party leader Shimon Peres and other party leaders, One Nation merged with Labour in the summer of 2004.

Labour Party leadership

After the merger, Peretz ran for the leadership of the Labour Party on a platform of ending the coalition with Likud, led by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and reasserting Labour's traditional socialist economic policies. Peretz narrowly defeated Peres, the incumbent leader, in the election on 9 November 2005.

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Views

During his campaign Peretz declared that "within two years of taking office I will have eradicated child poverty in Israel".[1][2] Notwithstanding, he has reiterated his commitment to a market economy. For his movement in latter years towards "third way" positions, as well as for his earthy and warm personality, Peretz has been compared to Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

In matters concerning relations with the Palestinians and the Arab world, Peretz was seen as holding dovish positions.[2] He was one of the early leaders of the Peace Now movement.[3] He was also, in the 1980s, a member of a group of eight Labour party Knesset members, dubbed "the Eight" and led by Yossi Beilin, who tried to set a liberal agenda for the party in matters concerning the peace process with the Palestinians, connecting the unresolved conflict with the Palestinians with the failure to solve Israel's most pressing social ills.

Peretz saw an intrinsic connection between a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the resolving of Israel's internal social tensions. He argued that the resources allotted to the settlements in the West Bank had diverted funds that could have helped to solve social problems throughout Israel. He described the conflict as having mutated Israeli politics, so that the traditional left-right distinctions did not hold: Instead of supporting a social-democratic left which would advance their cause, the lower classes, mostly of Middle Eastern Jewish origins, were diverted to the right by the fanning of nationalist tendencies; Concurrently, the left in Israel was usurped by the well-to-do, so that the Labour party had ironically become elitist.

Peretz has also backed direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian movement Hamas.[4]

Results

Peretz won 42% of the votes as against 40% for Peres and 17% for former defence minister and former party leader Binyamin Ben-Eliezer . After winning this election, Peretz resigned from his post at Histadrut to focus on the campaign to become the prime minister. In fulfillment of Peretz's pledge to withdraw Labour from the Likud-led coalition government, the party withdrew its support for the government on 11 November and all Labour Party cabinet ministers resigned. This action deprived the government of its majority in the Knesset and resulted in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon calling a new election for March 28, 2006. Shortly thereafter, Sharon and much of his Cabinet left Likud to form a new party, Kadima.

Decline

Peretz was widely criticised for abandoning the social agenda which headlined his campaign. He was accused of choosing to undertake the Israeli Ministry of Defense portfolio merely because of its prestigiousness and that he should have demanded the Ministry of Finance portfolio that better corresponds with his and the Labour Party social agenda.

His performance as a Minister of Defense during the Second Lebanon War was deemed to be poor by the public which led to an early elections for the Labour Party leadership. He was defeated by former Labour Party Chairman and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak and chose to resign from his post.

Election and Government

Peretz campaign billboard, Tel Aviv, January 2006. "Ki Higiah Hazman" - "Because The Time Has Come"

If Labour had won the 2006 election, Amir Peretz would have become the first non-Ashkenazi prime minister in Israel's history. Instead, Labour placed a strong second behind the Kadima Party, led by Sharon's successor, Ehud Olmert. Labour agreed to join a coalition government led by Olmert and the Kadima Party. In the negotiations for the formation of the government, Peretz, after attempting to gain the finance ministry, became Defense Minister, replacing Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) in the post. Peretz also received the title of Deputy Prime Minister.

Minister of Defense 2006-2007

During his term as Defense Minister, on 12 July, the second Lebanon war broke between Israel and Lebanon, following the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by the Hezbollah from Israel's northern border. Peretz, together with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, have decided to respond aggressively and launched a campaign against the Lebanese militia of Hezbollah. For 33 days the attacks were carried out via air and land. In the last 48 hours of the war, Peretz pushed for a massive ground operation. Land troops were flown by helicopters to seize the ground between the Israeli-Lebanese border and the river Litani. In this operation 33 Israeli soldiers were killed, and much anger was created amongst the Israeli public. The committee that was established by the government to investigate the war, the Winograd Committee, found that the decision to launch this operation was rational and justifiable under the current circumstances. After losing the internal elections in the Labour party to Ehud Barak, Peretz quit the defense ministry in June 2007.

Appointing the first Arab Muslim Minister in the Israeli Government

During his period as the leader of the Labor Party, Peretz nominated an Arab Muslim Israeli, Raleb Majadele, to be Minister of Culture, Science and Sports. His nomination was a breakthrough in the fragile relationship between the Arab-Israeli population and the Israeli government. This nomination was criticized by the right-wing party of Yisrael Beiteinu headed by Avigdor Lieberman.

References

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Shimon Peres
Leader of the Labour Party
2005–2007
Succeeded by
Ehud Barak

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Amir Peretz (born March 9, 1952) is the chairman of the Israel Labour Party.

Sourced

  • אם לא תהיה ברירה, נכריז מלחמה נגד המליונרים במדינת ישראל. הקרקע כל כך בוערת, שעשירי הארץ לא יתפלאו אם יגיעו קבוצות שפשוט יעלו על הבתים שלהם, ויגרשו אותם מהבית, או שהבנות שלהם כבר לא יוכלו להסתובב בחוץ. כל אחד יצטרך להקים משטרה פרטית. כשיתחילו המאבקים, שמבהירים את העובדה שאי אפשר להמשיך במצב שבו יש קבוצות שצוברות הון ומתעשרות באופן אגדי, ואחרים שנשארים כל כך מאחור, שאף אחד לא ישלה את עצמו שהבית שלו והחצר שלו מחוץ למשחק
    • Translation: If there is no choice, we will declare war on the millionaires in Israel. The ground is burning to such an extent, that the rich people of the land should not be surprised if certain groups would arrive and just climb on their houses and expel them from their homes, or if their daughters could no longer walk outside. Each one would have to establish a private police force. When the struggles begin, illustrating the fact that we cannot continue in this condition where there are groups that accumulate wealth and get rich in a legendary fashion, while others are left so far behind, no one should fool himself into thinking that his house and yard are out of the game.
    • Source: Interview by Orna Kadosh in Maariv, May 12, 2000 [1] [2]
  • The targeted assassination policy is a correct one. It is inconceivable that terrorists could operate freely without the ground quaking under their feet.
    • Source: TV interview by Menashe Raz, Oded Shachar and Maya Bengal, on Channel 1, October 16, 2005
  • At the first stages of negotiations, we will not release prisoners with blood on their hands. However, as part of a final agreement, I do not rule out this option. Offering hope for a better future is more important than grieving the past.
    • Source: TV interview by Menashe Raz, Oded Shachar and Maya Bengal, on Channel 1, October 16, 2005
  • צריך לדאוג שלא יהיו פה פעולות ראווה ולא ענישה קולקטיווית, אבל הלגיטימציה שתהיה לי להילחם בטרור תהיה גדולה יותר מאשר של כל מועמד אחר
    • Translation: We have to ensure that there are no showcase operations here, or collective punishment, but I will have greater legitimatization for fighting terrorism than any other candidate.
    • Source: Interview by Ari Shavit in Haaretz, March 3, 2006 [3] [4]

Attributed

  • When my mother delivered me, she didn't have milk, and I was breastfed by an Arab woman. Maybe that had an effect on my leftist views.
  • If a labor leader of national scale is arrested by the police, I will call a general strike.
  • צריך להפסיק עם הדיבורים שאם נבנה עוד מפעלים, נצטרך לקנות פחות שניים שלושה אף-16. זה ממש לא שם. צריך קודם כל לקבוע את היעדים. בוא נקבע מה היעד, אני בטוח שנמצא לזה מקורות. ואם, לא תהיה בררה, ושאלת האף-16 תעמוד מול ערך האדם, אני אכריע לטובת האדם, ולא לטובת האף-16
    • We should stop using the argument that if we build more factories here, we will have to buy two or three less F-16s. That's really not the case. First, it is needed to set the goals. Let's set the goal, and I'm certain that we will find resources for it. And if, there is no choice, and the question of the F-16 will stand opposed to human dignity, I will decide in favor of the human being, and not in favor of the F-16.

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