Interview with Irina Zvyagelskaya

Irina Zvyagelskaya, an analyst from the Institute of Oriental Studies in Moscow, spoke on Russia Today about the election in Israel.

Russia Today: It looks a done deal that Shimon Perez will be elected President. Considering the fact that he has been quite active in politics as a Prime Minister, is it more like political retirement for him?

Irina Zvyagelskaya: No, I do not think so. I believe that Perez was not a very lucky politician, and probably this time he is really rewarded. It is a good end of his career, but not political retirement.

RT: But can you explain a bit more considering the role of the President in Israel?

I.Z.: That is true that this is a ceremonial position and the President has not got many functions, but still it is a very authoritative as far as the figure, the person taking this post is concerned. And, he is very much respected anyway.

RT: Considering the fact that the current office holder Moshe Katsav is facing criminal allegations, do you think Shimon Perez will now have an extra job of restoring the dignity of the post?

I.Z.: No, I do not think that he will have to restore the dignity of the post, this position is dignified enough. The problem is with Moshe Katsav and his dignity. So it is up to him whether to restore it or leave it as it is.

RT: To a slightly different issue, namely a dramatic comeback of the former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who has won back control of the Labour Party. Do you think it is going to influence the resolving the Middles East conflict?

I.Z.: Probably. Anyhow, it was no surprise, I believe, that he was elected, because if we compare him to his predecessor, I mean Perez, who was just elected by chance, and who became Minister of Defence by chance as well, Barak is the right person at the right time in this position. He was Prime Minister and he was an active participant of talks in Camp David where he came forward with a new plan of the Middle East conflict settlement. It was not accepted but still it was there. And to add to this he is a military man, and this is also very important for Israel now if we take into consideration what happened in Gaza and Lebanon last year. So I believe having him elected was a very logical step on the part of the Labour Party members. Whether he will be able to influence the Middle East settlement cannot be known for sure at the moment, not because he is not able, but because the Middle East settlement right now looks like a great failure.