Former prime minister and Labor Party leader Shimon Peres, 82, ended weeks of speculation when he announced on Wednesday that he would retire from the Knesset and endorse Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in exchange for a senior minister position should Sharon win re-election. The dovish Peres would head peace talks with the Palestinians and develop the Galilee and Negev regions. He does not intend to seek a Knesset seat, ending 46 years in the Knesset. Peres, 82, said that it was difficult for him to leave the Labor Party after 61 years as a member. Crediting his mentor, Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, for teaching him to put his country before his party, Peres said, “My party activity has come to an end.”
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