Peres to join Sharon government

Shimon Peres has decided to leave the Labour party and join Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's next government, a senior Sharon adviser confirmed Tuesday.

According to the adviser, Lior Horev, Peres will not join Sharon's new party, Kadima.

"Tomorrow, he (Peres) will have a news conference," Horev said.

"He will leave the Labour party ... and will join the Sharon government and deal with the (development of) Galilee and the Negev," Horev said, referring to two outlying areas of Israel.

Earlier Tuesday, a Labour lawmaker, Dalia Itzik, announced she is joining Sharon's new party. Itzik is close to Peres, and a senior Labour official said her departure signalled that her mentor Peres would do the same.

"It looks like a package deal," party secretary-general Eitan Cabel told.

"We spoke about their remaining (in Labour) and not defecting to another party, but apparently things were already sealed, and the talks with us were nothing but a smokescreen."

Peres lost the leadership of the Labour party earlier this month and has not said if he would leave the party for Sharon's ahead of March 28 elections.

Itzik later told that Peres is really torn, the AP reports.


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