Peres says won't impose unity government
Speaking to high school students in Beersheba, president addresses possibility of pressuring Kadima, Likud leaders to join forces: 'I plan to respond to the people's wishes, and the people haven't asked me to impose anything.' Election system must be changed, he adds
President Shimon Peres on Monday addressed the possibility that he would pressure Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni and Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu to join forces in a unity government.
"I plan to respond to the people's wishes, and the people haven't asked me to impose anything. The people have told me to consider the election results with integrity and in accordance with the law, and I can only make a decision after I consult the parties," he said.
Speaking to high school students in the southern city of Beersheba, the president added that he supports changing the government system.
Asked whether he would force Livni or Netanyahu to do something, Peres said, "I'll be receiving the final results on Wednesday at 6 pm, and until then I'm hesitating whether I should to even talk to myself about this issue because I fear it would be leaked to the press improperly."
He stated that "the election system hurts the big parties and encourages the small ones, and as a result there are many parties. This creates bargaining and a trade-in, which reduce the image of politics in the eyes of the public.
"I am in favor of changing the election system. I believe everyone wants to change the system. The election system in Israel punishes every big party."
Peres presented as an example the election system in Germany, where the threshold to enter the parliament is higher than in Israel, and also hinted that the American election system would be a good option.
"One of the possibilities is to move from a national election system to a regional one, as well as raising the threshold. In Israel it stands at 2%, while in Germany the threshold is 5%. If we reach a situation of 5% things will be better."
According to Peres, democracy can be implemented even without many small parties. "All the opinions can be represented under an umbrella party as well, so I am in favor of changing the election system."
In 1996, Peres lost the elections to Netanyahu by less than 1%, after Israel changed its government system to the direct election of a prime minister, a system which was reversed several years later.