Is President Shimon Peres nearing a political comeback? It's not as if he ever left. The timeless Peres has always been with us, but do serious-minded people really believe Peres will leave the President's Residence two years before the end of his term, at almost 90 years of age, to jump into a political adventure with an uncertain outcome?
Despite the fact that the astonishing answer is "yes," that doesn't mean it will actually happen. There is a 99% chance that it won't, but even the slight chance that it may has some people anxious to hear the final word on the matter.
Five months ago, a senior political figure on a flight back to Israel from a European country held a lively conversation with someone on a politically hot topic. The conversation took place a few days after Kadima entered the government, a move that stopped early elections at that time. You know what everyone would be talking about now if we were in the middle of an elections period, the senior politician said; everyone would be speculating whether Shimon Peres will return to politics. This concept of Peres returning is the most intriguing speculation of the day.
Five months after that conversation, with election campaigns in full swing, the Peres scenario has surfaced again. It is based on the tremendous vacuum the Left is experiencing, which has only become bigger with the recent merger on the Right. The fact that Netanyahu is a shoe-in to become the prime minister is causing so much despair among the Left that it is considering dramatic moves, even one as unlikely as the return of Peres to lead it.
Despite the merger on the Right and the urgent need for the Left to orchestrate a similar unification, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and former Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni have been carrying on with their perpetual state of hesitation. Their inability to make this relatively simple decision is causing many among their supporters to lose their faith in them. Many are beginning to doubt their ability to make important decisions as political leaders, in light of their apparent difficulty in deciding on the basic matter of whether to return to the political arena at a time when they are most needed.
Aside from Olmert and Livni, there are no better alternatives for the leadership of the Left. Labor party leader Shelly Yachimovich is not seen as someone who can fill the post of prime minister. Kadima party leader Shaul Mofaz, to his detriment, is also not perceived as a likely candidate for the post. Independence party head Ehud Barak is no longer aiming for the post and would prefer to retain his title as defense minister. Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid understands that to make the jump from television personality to top political leader will take several more years, perhaps even decades, of hard work.
So who is left but Peres, the person who has always been called to arms in times like these? The person who personifies the eternal comeback and the one who can never say "no" to those who seek his return. He has always been flattered by those who knock on his door in admiration and adoration.
However, Peres will not return. He is not exactly weighing that option. There is no chance of that happening and he will most likely only mention such a scenario in interviews. He may have only fleeting thoughts of a return. But if they begged him sincerely enough ...