Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres at the weekend urged his Kadima Party colleagues to stop trying to bring down Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, but noted that if the latter is unable to hold on to the top position, he is interested in the job.
According to Ha'aretz, Peres stressed that the focus of Kadima after last week's publication of a damning review of Olmert's handling of the Second Lebanon War should be stabilizing the government and avoiding early elections. If that can be accomplished with Olmert at the helm, then Peres remains firmly in support of the beleaguered prime minister.
If, however, it becomes clear that Olmert must go in order to ensure Kadima's survival, there is a growing movement within Kadima and other coalition partners to see him replaced by Peres, instead of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
Peres has previously served as Israel's prime minister on two separate occasions. He is also one of the chief architects of the "land-for-peace" process.