Leftwing Shimon Peres, the elder statesman and frontrunner for prime minister in recent polls, endorsed Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for prime minister. "Ehud Olmert was nominated by Ariel Sharon to become acting prime minister when the need for it arises. I supported it then and I support it now," Peres said. "If Arik Sharon is not able to return to his responsibilities, Ehud Olmert will continue to head the government and I shall support him again.” Peres's remarks came amidst speculation that he might challenge Olmert for the leadership of Kadima, the new centrist party formed by Sharon, or that he may return to the Labor Party in the wake of Sharon's illness. Peres, 82, added that Sharon's dream will continue whether or not he recovers.
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