President Shimon Peres is not planning a political comeback, despite rumors that he is planning to head a center-left list to counter the Likud-Beytenu right-wing bloc, his spokesperson said Tuesday.
“In recent days, President Peres has met with many people who exerted tremendous pressure on him to quit his current position and run for the position of prime minister. Our clear answer to that is President Peres is not running and will conclude his term as president as planned,” his spokeswoman, Ayelet Frisch, told The Times of Israel.
Peres’s presidential term ends in July 2014.
In recent days, the 89-year-old Peres has held meetings with ex-prime minister Ehud Olmert and former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, who are both said to be considering running for the 19th Knesset in elections set for January 22. Peres has also been meeting with current heads of political parties, other senior politicians and former IDF chiefs of staff, which spurred rumors that he was planning to quit his mostly ceremonial position and run for the Knesset.
Peres served twice as prime minister, from September 1984 until October 1986, and again from November 1995 to June 1996. In 2007, he became Israel’s ninth president.
“It’s not a story,” Frisch said. “He has been meeting with all the heads of parties, including, for example, Shas and Yair [Lapid, of the new Yesh Atid party]. He has met with [Foreign Minister Avigdor] Liberman, with settler representatives, and even the prime minister. Since the day he entered office, President Peres has had an open-door policy. Every politician who wants to meet with him is welcome.”
According to Israeli law, the president cannot run for the Knesset. There had been rumors that Peres sought to amend this law so that he could be president as well as run for political office, but his spokesperson denied these reports too.