"I will do anything to ensure that Shimon Peres is elected the next president of the State of Israel," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said at a Kadima faction meeting on Monday.
The meeting was convened to approve Vice Premier Shimon Peres' appointment as the party's candidate for the upcoming presidential elections, which will take place on June 13.
Olmert praised Peres in the meeting, saying, "If we tried to prepare a form for the ideal candidate for president, Shimon Peres' life would perfectly match the required profile. At the age of 29 Peres became director-general of the Defense Ministry, David Ben-Gurion's right-hand man. He has has given a contribution unlike any other in the State of Israel. The security of the State of Israel would have been completely different if it wasn’t for his work.
"He has filled almost every possible role in the political domain and in government offices. He has become one of the most admired Israeli representatives in the world. No one in the world is more identified with the vision of the State of Israel, its aspiration for peace and its scientific progress, than Shimon Peres. I have no doubt that his election as president of the state is the natural choice. There is no doubt that if he is elected president he will restore to the position the honor it deserves."
Peres himself was absent from the meeting due to his wife's hospitalization.
It was later reported that the vice premier obtained the required number of supporting MK signatures to submit his candidacy for president. MKs Yoel Hasson and Ronit Tirosh accumulated 22 signatures from Kadima and from the Pensioners' party.
Olmert was among those who signed, as did acting President and House Speaker Dalia Itzik.
With the help of fellow faction member MK Yoel Hasson, Peres began collecting signatures supporting his candidacy earlier Monday morning. Each candidate must have the support and signatures of at least 10 MKs in order to be able to run.
MK Hasson told Ynet Monday that "there is no doubt that Peres is the most worthy candidate today for the role of president. Peres receives wide public support and I believe this will also effect the way in which Knesset members will vote. I plan to support Peres' election and help him get the majority he needs to be elected.
"Presidential elections are a very important thing for the Kadima party, and that is why the faction's support is so important today. I hope and believe that it will be joined by other factions in the coalition and even MKs from the opposition.”