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Race for Labor Party Chief Widens After Peres Bows out

The race for chairman of the Labor Party widened this week, after Knesset member Yossi Beilin announced his candidacy for the party’s leadership.

The party is set to elect in early June a new leader who would run for the premiership in the next general election, expected in the year 2000.

Beilin, an architect of the Israeli-Palestinian peace accords, said Tuesday at a news conference that he decided to enter the race after former Prime Minister Shimon Peres announced last week that he would not seek another term as party leader.

“I do not presently see someone who is leading the Labor party with the outlook of Peres, which is the correct synthesis of peace and security,” said Beilin, who has been close to Peres for nearly two decades and served as a minister- without-portfolio in the previous Labor government.

Knesset member Ehud Barak, the leading candidate for party chairman, welcomed Beilin’s entry into the race.

Barak, the former IDF chief of staff who was foreign minister in the Peres government, stressed that the party should focus its efforts on choosing a candidate who will succeed in defeating the Likud in the next election.

The other announced candidate is Knesset member Efraim Sneh, a former health minister.

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