Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, dismissed speculations regarding plans to leave the Likud party and form a new one if he loses the primary elections.

“I will not leave the Likud party”, Sharon said, “In spite of those who want my resignation, I will remain”.

The statements of Sharon came on Tuesday during a meeting with 90 members of the Likud Central Committee at his official residence in Jerusalem. 

Sharon’s statements were praised and received with enthusiasm from Likud members, an Israeli source reported, it also dismissed recent speculations in Israel that Sharon would quit the Likud if he loses the primary elections in his party.

Knesset member, Benjamin Netanyahu, Sharon’s main political rival said that he [Sharon] intends to resign from the Likud party and form a new one.

According to Netanyahu, Sharon actually resigned from the Likud during the U.N summit, and that a number of Likud members told him that Sharon asked them to join his new party.

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

Meanwhile, Sharon said during Tuesday’s meeting said the he plans to “win the Likud Central Committee”, and run for party chairman. 

During the meeting Sharon addressed the rumors of his possible resignation, saying “I plan to win at the Likud Central Committee, run

Sharon’s rivals, Netanyahu and Uzi Landau are trying to push the primaries of the Likud party to challenge him for party leadership.