Former Labor leader and defense minister Amir Peretz announced Monday that he will be running for party chairman again in a contest set to take place in some six months time.
“Under my leadership, Labor will bring the fight to the extreme right-wing government under Netanyahu, until we can replace it with a center-left coalition that we will lead,” Peretz wrote on Facebook shortly after announcing his candidacy.
“I fully believe that at this time I am the only candidate who can bring more of the population to vote for us,” he wrote, “and through this strengthen the center-left bloc and bring about a change of government.”
Labor leader Isaac Herzog, who will also be running, welcomed Peretz’s announcement. Labor is the senior member of the Zionist Union faction, which Herzog also heads.
“Amir Peretz’s candidacy was expected for some time. He is a respected candidate and the democratic contest within Labor is the soul of our shared home,” Herzog’s spokesperson said. “Isaac Herzog brought the party unprecedented success in the last elections, and intends to continue to lead Labor and Zionist Union as the sole alternative to the right-wing government of Netanyahu.”
A former head of the Histadrut labor federation, Peretz was MK Shelly Yachimovich’s political patron when she joined Labor in 2005. But the two had a falling out when Yachimovich beat him in the race for the party leadership in September 2011.
Peretz is considered the father of Israel’s highly successful Iron Dome missile defense system, having pushed to fund the system during his term as defense minister in 2006-2007.
In 2012, Peretz abandoned his political home in favor of Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua party, which subsequently joined forces with Labor as Zionist Union. But in February Peretz announced that he was returning to Labor.
In June, Peretz blasted Netanyahu over the recent upswing in violence, holding him responsible for the wave of terror attacks. In response Likud officials said that Peretz had “gone off the rails.”