Photo: Tsafrir Abayov
Casting his vote with his wife
Photo: Tsafrir Abayov
Photo: Yisrael Hedri
Protesting as Histadrut leader
Photo: Yisrael Hedri
Photo: Dalit Shacham
Campaigning for One Nation
Photo: Dalit Shacham

Who is Amir Peretz?

Labor party's newly-elected chairman started his political career after a friend persuaded him to run for mayor of his home town of Sderot more than 20 years ago; after progressing through the ranks, Peretz became Histadrut chairman and Knesset member

Amir Peretz was born in 1952 in Morocco and came to live in Israel with his family at age 4, where he settled in a Western Negev transit camp that eventually become the town of Sderot.


Peretz's father, who headed the Jewish community in Morocco, found work in a factory in nearby Kibbutz Ruhama, while his mother worked in a local laundry.


His given name was Armand, which was later changed to Amiram and then to the more modern Amir.


Peretz celebrates his victory                     (Photo: AFP)


From the early age of 14 years, Peretz and his friends started advertising leaflets about social injustice, admiring no other than revolutionist Che Guavana.


Peretz was recruited into the army at age 18 and served as a munitions officer in a paratroopers division. He was seriously injured in Sinai in 1974.


Over the next two years, Peretz underwent a long rehabilitation process, was bedridden for one year and then confined to a wheel chair. He finally learned to walk again, defying doctor's predictions.


Still confined to a wheel chair, Peretz decided to fulfill his dreams and established a farm on Moshav Nir Akiva near his home town of Sderot.


Peretz grew vegetables and flowers, specializing in roses and garlic. During this time he met and married his wife Ahlama. Today they have four children and live in Sderot.


Mayor of Sderot at 30


The newly-elected Labor party chairman first entered the political arena in 1983, after childhood friends persuaded him to run for mayor of Sderot.


Peretz ran for mayor on behalf of the

Labor party, and at the young age of 30 won his first election.


He went on to serve City Hall for five years. His progress through the Labor party was made along side  Avraham Burg, Haim Ramon and Yossi Beilin.


He become a Knesset member for the first time 1988 and has held that position ever since.


Following a difference of opinion regarding the Histadrut trade union federation's place in society, Peretz established the "New Life with the Histadrut" faction, together with Haim Ramon.


In 1995 Peretz was chosen as Histadrut chairman and was voted in by a large majority once again three years later.


He became a leader for the working class, leading endless strikes and battles. Following a dispute with then Labor party leader Ehud Barak, Peretz established the One Nation party in preparation for elections for the 15th Knesset in 1999, winning two mandates.


He went on to win three mandates in the next general elections.


In 2004, the Labor party unified with Peretz's One Nation party.


Ironically, Shimon Peres was instrumental at the time for leading the campaign to unify the two parties and placed pressure on several movements in a bid to allow for this move. 


פרסום ראשון: 11.11.05, 00:07
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