Photo: AP
Sharon addresses U.N. General Assembly
Photo: AP

Sharon: I will not leave Likud

Prime minister dismisses speculations regarding his plans to leave Likud, form new party in case he loses primary elections; sources close to the prime minister report that he added, 'I will not resign from Likud,' but his spokesmen deny he made the remark.

I did not want to leave the Likud and I will not leave the party despite those who are asking for my resignation, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Tuesday during a meeting of some 90 Likud Central Committee members at his official residence in Jerusalem.


The statement drew an enthusiastic round of applause from Likud members on hand and dismissed recent speculations regarding his future plans to resign from Likud and form a new party in case he loses the Likud primary elections.


Sources close to the prime minister reported that he added, "I will not resign from Likud," but his spokesmen denied he made the remark.


Sharon also implored the Likud members to support him during the upcoming Likud Central Committee convention, where it will apparently be determined whether the party’s primary elections will be brought forward, a move that is backed by Sharon’s main political rivals, Knesset Members Benjamin Netanyahu and Gideon Ezra.


“The important day is September 26, so don’t leave me alone on September 25," Sharon pleaded with the Likud members.


On Monday Netanyahu said Sharon plans to resign from Likud and form a new party.


“During the U.N. summit Sharon announced his resignation from Likud,” Netanyahu said, adding that a number of people have informed him that Sharon has asked them to join his new party.


'Leftist image'


During the meeting Sharon addressed the rumors of his possible resignation, saying “I plan to win at the Likud Central Committee, run for party chairmanship and lead the party to elections so it may remain in power.”


Upon his return from a successful visit to the U.S., the prime minister is now forced to roll up his sleeves in an attempt to minimize the political damage done to him in the Likud as a result of the “leftist” image he is currently attributed with following his U.N. General Assembly speech and in light of leaked reports regarding his decision to leave Likud and form a new party.


The rumors have hurt Sharon's efforts to thwart a push by party rivals Netanyahu and Uzi Landau to push up party primaries to challenge Sharon for the party leadership.


While Sharon has been trying to put the brakes on his eroding hold on party leadership, his Likud rivals have joined forces to try to convince the central committee to push up the primaries.


פרסום ראשון: 09.20.05, 19:44
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