Top aides of the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, believe that he should quit the Likud party and form a new one to participate in the upcoming Knesset elections.

Sharon recently held talks with his top aides and other Israeli figures political figures to discuss this issue. 

Sharon’s advisors, who took part in the “ranch meeting”, said that he had not decided how to act, but he currently feels that he should remain in the Likud, compete for leadership and run for premiership, an Israeli source reported.  

The advisors, who are advocating him to leave the Likud and form a new party, base their opinions on recent polls which showed that Sharon is in the third place behind two Likud contenders, but at the same time enjoys wide public support.

Also, the advisors believe that Sharon will unlikely be able to defeat Benjamin Netanyahu, his arch-rival, in the primaries.

Also, the advisors believe that even if Sharon managed to defeat Netanyahu, the central committee of the Likud party might still elect Knesset candidates who will be so right-wing making it difficult for Sharon to act.

One of the scenarios presented to Sharon, called the “Doomsday Scenario”, talks of him heading the Likud leadership list, and the Likud winning the elections, but he [Sharon] does not have sufficient party members who would suggest to the Israeli president that he is the best candidate to form the Israeli government, and he would have difficulty in gathering the support of 61 Knesset members needed to form the new government.

The advisors in favor of forming a new party believe that Sharon will not need Labor party chairman, Shimon Peres, or Shinui chair Yousef Lapid, but he can form a coalition with the two as well as other lists.

Meanwhile, the advisors who believe that Sharon should remain in the Likud party – who currently are a minority – said that “third parties” have a history of failure in the political Israeli system.

They recalled the defeat of the Center Party in 1999, and warned Sharon that he should not be misled by the surveys which talks of him winning the elections if he heads a new party.

Political analysts in Israel believe that Sharon should make a decision before the winter session of the Knesset, at the end of October, but at the same time he will be busy during the coming weeks in completing disengagement. 

Sharon’s “ranch forum” of close aides and advisors meet on weekly basis at his Tel Aviv bureau, or at his official residence in Jerusalem.

Sharon used to assemble with his forum at the Sycamore Ranch, but after it grew to 15 members, the meeting was moved to his bureau or his Jerusalem residence.

The forum consists of , the son of Sharon MK Omri Sharon, Sharon’s former bureau chief Uri Shani, cabinet secretary Yisrael Maimon, political adviser Lior Horev, attorney Yoram Rabad, , media adviser Assi Shariv, Sharon’s office director -general Ilan Cohen; adviser Lior Shilat and other invitees.

Gilad Sharon, the second son of the Israeli Prime Minister no longer attends the sessions.