Shimon Peres. 'No comment'
Photo: Ronen Boidek

Cabinet legislation committee okays 'Peres bill'

Seven minister vote in favor of bill that would change presidential vote to open ballot; five ministers oppose bill. Earlier, Kadima and Pensioners vote Peres to be their candidate. Peres refuses to comment on candidacy

The cabinet legislation committee on Sunday approved the "Peres bill" that would change the Knesset's presidential vote to an open ballot. Seven ministers voted in favor of the bill, including Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.


Five ministers opposed the bill: Housing Minister Meir Sheetrit (Kadima), Minister Meshulam Nahari (Shas) and Labor Ministers Eitan Cabel, Shalom Simhon and Isaac Herzog.


The bill is expected to meet stiff opposition when it is brought to the Knesset's approval, and even if it does pass it may only apply to the next presidential vote.


Minister Sheetrit said that was a possibility that the bill would not be approved and that "such a situation would be perceived as another Shimon Peres failure rather than a failure of the bill."


Sheetrit personally views Peres as a worthy candidate for president on behalf of Kadima, but is against a change in the voting method.


Earlier Sunday, Vice Premier Shimon Peres was unanimously selected presidential candidate by 11 Kadima and Pensioners Party ministers in a forum prior to the cabinet meeting.


Not present during the vote was coalition chairman MK Avigdor Itzchaky (Kadima) who was also supposed to convene the faction last week to discuss the Peres Bill, an effort to change presidential elections from a closed ballot of Knesset members to an open one.


An open ballot is thought to increase Peres' chance of victory.


During the meeting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, a supporter of the bill, asked "do any of us have to hide who we vote for? These things should be done openly – what is there to hide?"


At the end of the meeting 10 Kadima ministers voted for the bill, claiming closed ballots give way for "dirty deals."


The only minister to oppose was Meir Sheetrit.


Regarding Peres, the ministers said "Kadima is presenting a worthy candidate; polls even show that the people of Israel think he is worthy." Peres himself showed less enthusiasm in a talk with Ynet Sunday morning, and refused to comment on the possibility of his election as president of the State of Israel saying, "I'm not in the mood for presidential statements."


Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 01.28.07, 13:39
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