Likud's anti-Sharon move gathers steam

Aug. 30, 2005 at 2:22 PM

TEL AVIV, Israel, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Israel's right-wing Likud Party will attempt to move up its leadership primaries, the first time a party has tried to oust a serving prime minister as chairman.

The party's central committee will vote Sept. 26, thereby effectively beginning the process of ousting Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as the party's head, the Ha'aretz daily reported Tuesday.

Should the committee adopt the proposal submitted by Sharon's opponents, the primaries will take place in late November. Sharon will then have to decide by then whether to run against Benjamin Netanyahu, who is leading in polls of members, or quit the Likud and start a new party.

Sharon said in a television he would run in the primaries, but would not agree to be Netanyahu's No. 2 if he lost.

Early Likud primaries probably signal early elections, and would likely cause the Knesset to dissolve shortly after its winter session begins in late October, the newspaper said.

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