In a conversation with Ynet Thursday, shortly before Ehud Olmert's new government was sworn in, Peres said that "there is no difference between the two parties, and the best thing for them is to unite."
Although senior Labor members did not rush to lead the move suggested by Peres, off-the-record very senior party officials said that "we cannot refer to this option as an imaginary option. Today it may seem impossible, but it could certainly happen in the future."
A senior Labor official told Ynet: "At the moment I don’t see it happening, but in the future everything is possible."
Another senior member said: "I don’t know why Shimon said what he said, but it's not something we can reject. Maybe Peres and Ehud Olmert held a face-to-face conversation at the Knesset Thursday, and that's were the whole idea came from. In any case, it's not hallucinatory."
Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, one of the few Labor members who agreed to relate to Peres' remarks in the open, told Ynet: "It's too early to talk about such things. I understand Peres' anxiety, because he knows that he is part of a party without any political structures, without roots and without any organization."
"This party was only founded for the sake of the convergence, and there is nothing in it beyond the convergence. That's why Peres talks about a future unity. These dreams are too early," he added.
However, Ben Eliezer said, Peres' idea cannot be rejected out of hand.
Ben-Eliezer criticized Peres’ comments according to which there is no difference between Labor and Kadima.
“In the diplomatic field there is no difference, but there certainly are differences in the economic and social fields,” he said.
Minister Simhon: Not worth it for either party
Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon of Labor discounted any possibility of a merger, stating that such a move would be “unwise for both parties.”
“There is no chance that this union would bring 50 mandates,” he said. “Kadima has already proven that this does not work. We should cooperate within the government. A unity would in fact form one bloc, but this would strengthen the Likud side. Therefore, politically-speaking, it’s just not worth it for either party.
“A union is not a feasible possibility at this time. Both parties must prove first that they are capable of working within the government framework. If the situation will become ideal, then maybe it can be discussed. For now it is unrealistic,” he added.
After speaking with Ynet on the subject, Peres rushed to market the idea among fellow Kadima ministers. A short while before the traditional government photo-shoot at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, the vice premier spoke to one of the ministers on the subject.
“What’s the difference between the parties?" Peres asked the minister, who was taken aback by the proposal.
“What do we need two separate parties for?” Peres continued. “We need them united.”