Peres: I'll release prisoners as president
Vice Premier Shimon Peres is meeting with Knesset members from left and center to garner support for presidential bid. During meetings Peres gives his political vision, and explains why he is better than Likud rival Reuven Rivlin because of position on releasing prisoners
In the past few days, Vice Premier Shimon Peres has been on a whirlwind tour of…the Knesset. Unlike his usual trips around the world garnering support for the State of Israel, this time Peres is doing the same thing, but without leaving the Knesset confines and searching for support for himself.
During the meetings with officials and activists from different parties, Peres lays out his vision for the new Middle East, his plans
to develop the Galilee and Negev, and of course – his position on releasing Palestinian prisoners, an issue which will be crucial for any future deal for the release of the kidnapped soldiers.
While he may be saying that the meetings are routine and normal, the people meeting him are convinced they are just an attempt to garner their support for his impending bid for the presidency.
Peres' meetings in the past few days included Knesset members from Labor, Meretz, the Pensioners Party, and the Arab factions.
Knesset members who have met Peres on his recent swing say that other than the political vision Peres is speaking about, he also reminds them of the advantages he brings to the table over his proposed rival for the presidency, MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud), especially on the political front.
One issue Peres has tried to champion, but with little success so far, was the proposal to have an open vote for the presidency, unlike the current procedure. "If we want to advance the political issues, we need a supportive president," Peres said referring to the fact that MK Rivlin as Knesset Speaker did not support the disengagement plan.
Sources within the Knesset say that people close to Peres have told MKs from the left, that if he were to be elected president, Peres will strongly consider pardoning Palestinian prisoners in a deal to release the kidnapped soldiers. On the other hand, there is a feeling in the Knesset that Rivlin will not sign any pardon for Palestinian prisoners.
MKs from the Labor have also confirmed these words, saying they have heard them from Peres before.
Peres' spokesman Yoram Dori, however, denies any such statements and says that Peres and his associates never said these words.