Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) stands next to President Shimon Peres
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) stands next to President Shimon PeresReuters

Israeli president Shimon Peres has hit out at prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu with claims that the latter's campaign to curb presidential powers was "an attempt to establish a dictatorship here".

Peres allegedly said Netanyahu, who has led a lobbying effort on his coalition partners to back his bid to reduce the president's powers, "won't be satisfied until there is an absolute ruler", according to the Jerusalem Post.

The Likud leader wants to introduce legislation that would automatically grant the leader of the largest party in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, the right to form a governing coalition.

The Israeli presidency is already a largely ceremonial position with little executive power.

Netanyahu, who is trying to gather support to postpone the presidential elections scheduled for June to review the president's duties, is believed to be backed by other coalition partners such as the centrist Hatnua party of justice minister Tzipi Livni and the hawkish foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Haaretz newspaper described Netanyahu as obsessive in his lobbying attempts.