Israel Elder statesman Shimon Peres on Wednesday declared his candidacy for the ceremonial post of Israeli president, telling supporters, "This may be my last chance to serve the country."
His latest campaign caps a 60-year political career that has brought international accolades and a Nobel Peace Prize, but also repeated election losses, including to the current president, who stands accused of sex crimes.
Peres' backers said a victory this time for the energetic 83-year-old could help restore the dignity and prestige of the presidency, which have been badly tarnished by police investigations into President Moshe Katsav on suspicion of rape, sexual assault, corruption and other misconduct. Katsav has not been formally charged, but has stepped down temporarily to fight the allegations. His term ends this summer.
The president is elected in a secret ballot every seven years by the 120 members of Israel's parliament. Peres was the favorite when he ran last time, and was publicly endorsed by many legislators. On polling day, however, lawmakers gave the job to Katsav, a low-ranking politician who had the blessing of a prominent Jewish spiritual leader.