Defense Minister Amir Peretz is still trying to exert his influence on the Labor party, despite losing in the race for chairman. He is scheduled to meet with MK Ami Ayalon Saturday night to finalize details of his support of Ayalon for the Labor party runoff. The two will also discuss whether or not the party will remain in a government headed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and by the end of the meeting the Peretz and Ayalon are expected to have reached an agreement
Peretz's aides said the defense minister plans to promote three main topics in his talks with Ayalon: A law guaranteeing a pension for every citizen, the minimum wage law issue and implementation of relevant personnel laws by the beginning of August.
Peretz also wants the government to decide on a new political plan immediately, and expects Ayalon to present these subjects as conditions for remaining in the Olmert government if he is elected.
However, Peretz' apparent political maneuverings may stay behind the scenes.
His associates said that "no one should be surprised if Amir is not a minister in the next government. He is not interested in a ministerial role at all, and this is not at the top of his priority list. He may stay on as an MK."
If there are no last minute surprises, Peretz is expected to announce his camp's support of Ayalon Sunday afternoon at the party's headquarters in Tel Aviv.
A senior source from Peretz's camp told Ynet that despite the progress being made between the Labor chairman and candidate Ayalon, "there is a chance that in the end, Peretz will remain on the fence."
The source added that there was no way that Peretz would support Barak.
"If Amir does not support any of the candidates, it is likely that Ehud Barak will win the second round. Ami Ayalon needs him (Peretz) more than Barak
does," the source said.
Despite the absence of a formal announcement of support, Peretz participated in a meeting with his supporters from the Arab sector in Baka al-Gharbiya, and urged them to remain united for fear that he may lose many supporters to Ehud Barak.
In the meantime, Ehud Barak has scheduled a meeting with Arab Minister Raleb Majadele, in hopes that Majadele may help him gain the support of the thousands of Arab labor members.