PERETZ, Amir

Amir Peretz was born in Bojad, Morocco, in 1952. In 1956, he migrated with his family to Sderot, a poor city in the South of Israel, close to the Gaza Strip. After he graduated from college, he joined the army and the brigade of paratroopers where he was ranked captain. During the Kippour war, he got seriously injured and was convalescing for a year, which forced him to leave the army. Though he had to remain for several years in a wheel chair, he managed to work as a horticulturist.

In 1983, on the advice of one of his old friends, Peretz presented himself to the local elections of Sderot and became mayor of the city. He fulfilled this job until he entered the Israeli Parliament, Knesset, in 1988.

In 1994 he joined Histadrout, the Labour confederation, of which he became President at the end of 1995. His leadership was brave and frank, as he fought against the difficult economic reforms taken by the Ministry of Finances. In 2003 and 2004, he called for general strikes to protest against the absence of payment since several months of the local workers.

During all those years in Knesset, Amir Peretz supported the right of the Palestinian people to have their own State, and positioned himself in favor of cooperation between the two populations. He was also in favor of the cessation of occupation which he judged to be immoral.

In 1999, he formed the party Am Ehad (« One population »). The party won two seats at the Knesset 1999 general elections, and three in 2003. As a defendant of the poor against the capitalist politic of the Likoud Government, Peretz gained a lot of popularity among the underprivileged and the working-class. He took advantage of his popularity to influence his come-back to the Labour party, merging Am Ehad with the Labour Party in the summer of 2004.

After the melting, Peretz initiated a campaign for the direction of the party. His platform pleaded in favor of the end of the Likoud coalition and got back to a more traditional progressive approach.

Peretz was elected Head of the Israeli Labour Party after the 9 November 2005 primary elections. With his election, he signed a victory upon Shimon Peres, former Prime Minister and Nobel Price of Peace (1994), though Peres had been considered as the winner according to the surveys. Immediately after his election, Peretz announced his plan to retrieve the party from the Government coalition, precipitating the organization of new elections.

The Labour party had rallied the Likoud coalition (right) of Sharon two years go in order to realize the retrieve of the Israeli from the Gaza strip and from the four colonies enclosed in the North of the West Bank in September 2005 .

Amir Pertez is married to Ahlama and is the father of four children: Ohad, Shani, Iftah and Matan.