News Brief

Israel’s Amir Peretz reportedly has agreed to back Ehud Barak’s rival for the Labor Party leadership.

Israeli media reported Sunday that Peretz, the outgoing Labor chief, agreed to endorse retired Shin Bet director Ami Ayalon for the June 12 party runoff vote against Barak, a former prime minister. Peretz’s official announcement was expected Sunday evening.

Peretz, Israel’s defense minister, trailed Barak and Ayalon in the first round of the Labor election last week. His support could help shift votes to Ayalon, whose relative inexperience has been a boon to Barak’s campaign for a political comeback.

According to media reports, Ayalon promised Peretz a senior “social” portfolio in the coalition government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert if he is elected Labor leader. Peretz, a former trade union boss, has voiced interest in the Finance and Welfare ministries. Ayalon wants to take over the Defense ministry.

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