Photo: Gil Yohanan
Peretz: Quitting?
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Photo: Dudi Vaknin
Olmert: Trying to patch things up
Photo: Dudi Vaknin
Officials: Secret contacts towards Peretz' resignation
Defense minister and prime minister to meet Thursday for first time since contentious phone call between Peretz Abbas Sunday. Sources tell Ynet secret contacts being made to bring about Peretz’s respectful resignation while maintaining stable coalition

After a tense month Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz will meet Thursday in attempt to patch things up between them.


Peretz’s phone call Sunday to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas - without Olmert’s knowledge – infuriated the prime minister and caused unprecedented strain between the two leaders.


Olmert hopes to host the meeting in a calm and effectual manual to draw to a close this chapter of tensions, especially considering the security issues on the agenda that require full attention.


The meeting between the two was officially defined as a “routine work meeting” and no one will expressly admit that the two will address the phone call incident.


However, in light of the fact that Thursday’s conference will be the first meeting between Olmert and Peretz since Sunday, it is reasonable to assume that the burning issue will arise.


Senior Labor officials told Ynet that in recent days, hushed contacts have been made meant to bring Peretz to quit his post respectably

and in parallel maintain the stability of the coalition.


The officials assessed that Peretz would announce his intention to quit within the next few weeks, and added that the Labor chairman’s political position at present was “extremely difficult.” It should be noted that during the week, the Labor party expressed support for the phone call between Peretz and Abbas, as well as for Peretz’ initiative to revive the diplomatic process with the Palestinians. However, not all party members believe he should continue serving in his post.


'We will not attend the funeral'

One senior official told Ynet that ‘Peretz knows he is through; everyone is abandoning him, stabbing him in the back. It won’t be surprising if he has a hard time getting reelected even as a leading Knesset member on Labor’s list.”


“Peretz must realize that his being defense minister is detrimental on a national level and projects on Labor,” the official said.


“It is not impossible to fire a defense minister, but at this time it is not being considered from our standpoint.


Another official said, “Olmert cannot dismiss Peretz, because then he would have to go as well and he knows it; the two are joined together like Siamese twins; in any case, Peretz and Chief of Staff Dan Halutz will have to go some time soon.”


Sources close to Olmert said the prime minister missed an opportunity to fire Peretz. “Now the momentum is gone and he cannot be dismissed,” one source said.


Meanwhile, sources in Kadima have expressed their staunch criticism over Olmert’s conduct, saying he may bring about the party’s demise.


“We were at the wedding, but we will not attend the funeral,” one party official said.


First published: 23.11.06, 00:59
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