Political intrigue has been simmering alongside concern about Ariel Sharon's health, as Israeli politicians plan for upcoming elections while awaiting final word that the prime minister will be not be able to return to office. Some of the ferment concerns elder statesman Shimon Peres, who, at 82, still seeks an active role in the country's political life. Mr Peres left the Labour Party, his longstanding political home, in favour of Mr Sharon's new Kadima party after losing a Labour leadership contest in October. He raised eyebrows after Mr Sharon's brain haemorrhaged last week when, during a meeting with acting premier and Kadima leader Ehud Olmert, he failed to clarify whether he would stay in Kadima or would go back to Labour. Critics said he was ready to 'sell himself' to which ever party offered him a better ministerial post or title. To squash the criticism, Mr Peres declared repeatedly on Sunday that he accepted Mr Olmert's leadership as acting premier and would remain in Kadima. But questions persisted about whether the Nobel peace-prize laureate still wanted to make one last stab at becoming prime minister, a position he has held twice. Mr Peres sought on Monday night to put that speculation to rest as well. 'I have no intention of being prime minister even if they offer me the post now,' he told Israel Television. According to Israeli law, once Mr Sharon's permanent incapacitation is confirmed, cabinet ministers choose the new premier from his party, meaning that Mr Peres would be eligible to contest the post.