"If the Likud Central Committee votes to bring forward the primaries, they will finally prove that the Committee has some importance," said a distinguished, and cynical aide to Ariel Sharon. "And that importance is," he continued, "that after such a vote, it will be proven that there is logic in madness."
This is, roughly, the only logic that can be found in the Likud to explain why the primaries may be brought forward.
There is no other way to explain why hundreds of Likud Central Committee members would take a loaded gun, point it at their temples, and pull the trigger. In other words, what rational party would overthrow a prime minister, when it knows that without him, it would crash?
It's pointless to search for any brilliant insights within the Likud at this stage.
While Sharon appealed to the logic of party members before flying to New York, much has already changed since then.
The prime minister spoke at the U.N. and delivered a left wing style speech (though this is also disputable), and one of his aides, (some say Dov Weissglass, who's contract ends in December), placed a road side bomb near Sharon when he leaked information that the prime minister already decided to leave the Likud.
In the meantime, Netanyahu stacked up endless press appearances, and argued that Sharon does not even know how to spell Likud.
Thus, everyone is now looking to numbers for the solution. Who has more supporters, who made more phone calls to Central Committee members, and who will win the Likud more mandates?
"If only so and so amount of people come to the polls, everything will be okay," Sharon's aides say from time to time, as they continue to make phone calls, and place various marks next to the names of Committee members.
Perhaps out of desperation, aides to the prime minister are placing their hopes in impossible objectives. Sharon's advisors are not ashamed of leaning on reports and polls published in the weekend papers. "The weekend papers will have an influence on what Committee members will do," said a Sharon aide. "There are polls, reports, and analyses that can influence people, and cause them to vote as we need them to."
On the operational side, Sharon's political advisors, headed by his son, Omri, are working around the clock to reach ever Committee member, to solve their problems, and deal with complaints, so long as they vote for Sharon.
The big question is what will happen on the day after. Will a new party rise, as the Likud splits?
Good cop bad cop spin doctors
Sharon's advisors have been sending mixed messages for some time now. It is no longer clear who is representing the truth, and it's not so clear what exactly the truth is. Some say that a new party is only a matter of time, even days. Other advisors give opposite answers.
"That's nonsense," they say, dismissing the possibility of a new party. But despite the denials, there are reports of feverish work behind the scenes, construction work for a new party, with a list prepared, and a name.
Despite the rumor, a Sharon aide said, "whoever says there is a new party is speaking for himself. Arik did not want to hear about it at all. There has never been a session about this, and it's important to remember that Arik is the one who decides. Without him, it'll be a little hard to establish a new party. On Monday, if we win, there won't be a new party."
There are many in the political arena who say that, at times, Sharon's machine of political spins and leaks works seems to work too well. The same people around the prime minister say the same things – there could even be a division of labor among aides, with some hinting towards a new party, and others instructed to calm everyone down, and to rule out such an option.
Sharon loves vagueness, and the game played by his advisors can certainly fall under the category of "good cop bad cop." There's a "good advisor" and a "bad advisor." The good advisor talks about the Likud as Sharon's only home, and the bad advisor nourishes the press with reports about a new party being set up secretly.
The polls being released in recent days should set off a series of sirens, rather a mere rid light, in Netanyahu's head.
As the days pass, he is becoming less and less attractive to the public eye. True, he is a loved in the Likud Central Committee, but among the general public, even Peres and his party are more popular than Netanyahu.