Peres elected as Israel's president
The election of Shimon Peres as Israel's ninyj president was assured Wednesday, after his two rivals in the race threw their support to him following his victory in a first round of voting. Minutes after Peres took the first round with 58 votes to 37 for Likud challenger Reuven Rivlin and 21 for Labor member Collette Avital, the latter called an impromptu news conference to declare that she had decided to pull out of the race and throw her support to Peres. Soon after, Rivlin followed suit.
The Peres victory followed a painful defeat seven years ago at the hands of then-Likud member Moshe Katsav. Katsav, who now faces the possibility of rape and sexual assault charges, has suspended himself from presidential duties.
Advisors to Peres and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had said that since Peres seems to have a comfortable lead, they would seek a Peres victory in the first round, Haaretz reported. Olmert's associates were thus working late Tuesday night to persuade MPs supporting Avital to transfer their votes to Peres.