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Tuesday, 13 August, 2002, 15:29 GMT 16:29 UK
Israeli dove runs for Labour leader
Amram Mitzna
Mitzna says violence will not resolve the conflict
Former Israeli general Amram Mitzna has announced his candidacy for leadership of the country's Labour Party, with a call for the immediate resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians.

At a news conference at party headquarters in Tel Aviv, Mr Mitzna said Israel would have to make painful concessions for a final peace deal, including uprooting Jewish settlements.


I am convinced that I will be elected

Amram Mitzna
Mr Mitzna conceded he did not have a "miracle solution" to the conflict with the Palestinians, but stressed "the urgent need to resume negotiations".

He also said Israel could not choose which Palestinian leaders to deal with.

His candidacy comes as the current Labour Party leader, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, finds himself increasingly compromised with the dovish left due to his second role as defence minister in the right-wing led government of Ariel Sharon.

Confident

Mr Mitzna has declared himself confident of victory.

"I...am convinced that I will be elected, although this will only be the first round in the final battle," Mr Mitzna said.

Palestinian boys with guns
Mitza said there is no miracle solution to the conflict
He was referring to parliamentary elections due by October next year, in which the winner of the Labour Party's internal elections will challenge the candidate of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's right-wing Likud party for the premiership.

Amram Mitzna is not the first potential leader of the Israeli left wing to emerge almost overnight from political obscurity and become the great hope for Middle East peace.

He is treading the same path as former prime minister Ehud Barak and others before him.

History's lessons

But Mr Mitzna, declaring himself as an aspirant for the Labour Party leadership, says he is the first to acknowledge that he must learn lessons from good people who failed halfway through.

Rugged-looking and sporting a full grey beard, Mr Mitzna is an army general with three decades of experience including military command of the West Bank during the first Palestinian intifada in the late 1980s.

He retired from the army and nine years ago was elected into his current role as mayor of the port city of Haifa.

Mr Mitzna says that if he learned anything while in uniform, it was that military force alone cannot solve Israel's problems.


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