Amidst reports that he was quitting the hardline Likud Party, which he helped found more than 30 years ago, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Monday asked President Moshe Katsav to dissolve parliament and hold early general elections.
Sharon, 77, whose moves to disengage from Gaza and parts of West Bank has been opposed by the right-wing Likud party, is likely to form a new party and contest the elections possibly in March. He hopes to capture ground in the next elections and win four more years as prime minister.
His departure from the Likud, if confirmed, would bring about a political earthquake that will have a big impact on the Israeli political spectrum, triggering massive realignment of forces.
After his meeting with Sharon, the President said he would make a quick decision on his request for dissolution of the Knesset and holding an early election. "Of course, I think we need to dissolve the Knesset and hold elections as soon as possible," he said.
Asked whether the decision would be made within days, he said, 'less than days'. If Kastav approves the dissolution of Parliament, a new election would have to be held by March.
According to the law, the elections should be held within 90 days after the Knesset is dissolved and the Army Radio on Monday suggested March 8 as the most likely day.