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Peres Weighing Decision on Early Knesset Elections

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Amid continuing speculation that the date for Israel’s national elections would be advanced, Prime Minister Shimon Peres said this week that a decision on when they would occur would be made in February.

The general elections must be held by Oct. 29.

Since Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination, there has been growing talk about the possibility of moving the elections forward, possibly to May.

Labor Party officials in favor of such a move say the party should capitalize on some of the support it garnered after Rabin’s killing, especially if the peace negotiations with Syria do not move forward.

Peres has insisted that there is no tie between the timing of elections and the Israeli-Syrian talks.

He reiterated that position Wednesday, telling reporters on the plane with him to London that whenever the elections are held, they would have no bearing on the negotiations.

The speculation over the elections has been a matter of some concern to American officials involved in the Israeli-Syrian talks.

Israel Radio reported that Peres had informed senior American diplomats of his considerations about the elections.

Labor Party primaries are now scheduled for mid-April, though Nissim Zvilli, the party’s secretary general, has said that under directions from Peres, officials were looking into the possibility of moving the primaries to an earlier date.

Meanwhile, Labor closed its registration for party primaries Wednesday. More than 200 people registered as candidates.

However, two current Labor members of the Cabinet – Transport Minister Yisrael Kessar and Agriculture Minister Ya’akov Tsur – will not running.

Tsur, who was appointed to the Cabinet by Rabin and is not a Knesset member, said a politician has to know “when enough is enough.”

In the opposition Likud Party, calls have been mounting for moving that party’s internal elections.

Among those in support of the move are Likud Knesset members Limor Livnat and Dov Shilansky.

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