Sderot, , Israel
|| March 09, 1952
Jun 26, 2015 09:37pm
African - Jewish - Socialist - Pro-Labor - Married - Union Member - Judaism - Straight -
|Info||Amir Peretz is the newly-elected leader of the Labour Party in Israel, having defeated Shimon Peres in the primary elections on 9 November 2005. Peretz is also chairman of the Histadrut labour federation. |
Amir Peretz was born as Armand Peretz in the town of Bojar in Morroco. His father was head of the Jewish community and owned a petrol station. The family emigrated to Israel in 1956. They were settled in what later became the town of Sderot. Peretz graduated from high school in Sderot. He served in the IDF as a logistics officer in the paratroop brigade. He left the army in 1974 with the rank of captain, after having been wounded in an accident when his armoured personnel carrier overturned. After rehabilitating from the accident, he bought and settled in a farm in the village of Nir Akiva.
In 1983 he answered a call made by friends, and ran for the mayorship of the town of Sderot, representing the Israel Labour Party. His victory ended a long period of dominance of the town's politics by the right-wing Likud party and the national religious Mafdal party. It was the first of a series of local councils which passed back to Labour control. As mayor, he strongly emphasized education and worked to improve previously fraught relations with the kibbutzim in the area.
In 1988 he was elected a member of the Knesset. In 1994 he supported Haim Ramon's challenge for the leadership of Histadrut against the favoured candidate of Labour's then leader, Yitzhak Rabin, and in opposition to the Rabin government's moving away from Labour's traditional socialist platform. This isolated Peretz within the Labour Party. He became chairman of Histadrut in December 1995, when Ramon reconciled his differences with Rabin and became a government minister. In 1999, Peretz resigned from the Labour Party to form his own party, Am Ehad ("One Nation").
Am Ehad won two seats in the Knesset in the General Election in 1999, and three in 2003. As Labour's fortunes changed with the Likud Party in government, and Israel's social programmes were dismantled, Peretz became increasingly popular with Israel's working-class and by the start of 2004 was being talked of as a "white knight who will rescue [Labour] from oblivion". After protracted negotiations with Shimon Peres and other Labour leaders, Am Ehad merged with Labour in the summer of 2005.
After the merger, Peretz ran for the leadership of the Labour Party on a platform of ending the coalition with Likud, led by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and reasserting Labour's traditional socialist policies. Peretz narrowly defeated the incumbent leader and former Prime Minister of Israel, Shimon Peres, in the election on 9 November 2005. Peretz won 42% of the votes as against 39% for Shimon Peres. The third candidate, former defence minister Benjamin (Fuad) Ben-Eliezer, received 16%. Shimon Peres has called for a party inquiry into alleged electoral fraud at some polling stations. However, Eytan Kavel, Labour's secretary-general, dismissed the allegations stating that the results of all polling stations had been confirmed by representatives of all the contenders. The next General Election in Israel is due by November 2006, but could be called earlier. Were Amir Peretz to win the election and form a government, he would become the first non-Ashkenazi premier in Israel's history.
Peretz is married and is the father of four children.