Peres Announces Early Elections

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JERUSALEM, ISRAEL: Israelis will go to the polls 5 months early Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres announced on Sunday, telling voters it was time to "renew his mandate". Believing that the Israelis and their Arab neighbors are ready to live in peace, Peres would consider reelection a confirmation of his peacemaking policy. The rescheduling of the October elections for the end of May has caused controversy in Israel. Peres' opponents accuse him of self interest, trying to turn the wave of support for the peace process which followed Rabin's death into an electoral victory. Peres is conscious of his 20 point lead in polls, but claims that an early election is appropriate, since he was not elected, but simply stepped into his position after Rabin's assassination. Peres may be doing some canny political maneuvering of his own, however. Since the Syrians will not come to the negotiating table before October, Peres cannot count on the wave of support a fresh peace agreement would give him. In order to win the election, Peres must take advantage of his current high standing. Time's Johanna McGeary says "Another peace deal would make Peres a shoo-in. Now that Peres can not guarantee the Syrian deal, so he wants the elections as soon as possible."