(Video) Prime Minister Ariel Sharon convened a joint press conference Sunday afternoon with his new partner, former Labor Chairman Shimon Peres.
PM's press conference (Footage: Knesset Channel 99)
"I am happy to announce that Shimon Peres has decided to join us at Kadima. Any movement in the world, any group in the world would
benefit from a person like Shimon, from a person with such a vision," he said.
"I am sure that we will do many things together. I would like to stress that this is a real partnership," he said, adding "I offered Peres to choose any role he desires."
"No matter what role Shimon chooses, it is obvious that he will be a full partner in the political process, and in addition will continue his involvement in the development of the Negev and the Galilee and the economic development of Gaza," he added.
The prime minister hinted that one of Peres' options is the Foreign Ministry, "although at this stage it is still too early to say."
Sharon added that they have still not had time to sit and discuss the designated position. However, Peres said that he prefers to wait for Sharon to form his new government before the two discuss the issue.
Peres: I do not need forgiveness from anyone
"I feel that I am joining a great and important partnership," Peres added.
"I do this in total awareness, out of a feeling of duty and of privilege. I am sorry to part with the past, but I am happy to join a new hope," he said.
"What I see before my eyes is a big opportunity, as well as the challenge we are facing. I understand that after the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip...I was also in favor of a national unity government then and I thought that we should have entered the
government without any conditions. I think that it was the right decision and also fulfilled the hope that I had."
"Apart from the ability and the need to continue the peace process and not take any breaks, we must not let negative and destructive forces enter during this timeout, but rather continue the momentum on our own initiative and viewpoint through a great and real cooperation also with the other side," he said.
Peres added that "I would not have forgiven myself had I not taken part in this move headed by Ariel Sharon today, out of partisan excuses or out of excuses of comfort or discomfort. The frameworks have become obsolete, the situation has changed and we must refer to this situation."
"I do not feel any need to ask for forgiveness from anyone, just like I have no tendency to blame anyone," he said.
"The joint journey with a partner has led me to this situation, and I hope that what we are saying will give hope to the millions of Israeli citizens, to the young generation, to the neighbors around us, and to a great extent to the entire world, which would like to end the religious conflict of terror and the national conflict between ourselves and the Palestinians."
"I am certain we will remain loyal to these important things," Peres concluded.
Sharon's headquarters have top 5 list
Sharon's aides estimate that at present Peres will not play an active role in the prime minister's campaign and will not be appointed as a senior minister.
However, Sharon's headquarters have already comprised a list of the top five people to head Kadima's Knesset list, including Sharon, Finance Minister Ehud Olmert, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, former Shin Bet Chief Avi Dichter and Transportation Minister Meir Sheetrit.
The party is expected to inaugurate its new Tel Aviv headquarters Thursday.
Meanwhile, party officials reported that more than 10,000 people have already asked to join the party through its new website.