Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, and Labor Party Chairman Amir Peretz, met on Thursday morning, and agreed to hold the Knesset elections between the end of February and the end of March next year. 

Sharon said on Wednesday that he wants the elections to be held as soon as possible, and that he does not wish to waste time on election campaign.
Meanwhile, the newly elected leader of the Labor Party, Peretz, described his meeting with Sharon as “to the point”, and told Sharon that he would agree to any close date he chooses; he initially wanted the ballot to be held on March 6, 2006.
“I will let Sharon chose any date he likes between end of February and end of March”, Peretz said, “I would agree to any date he sets”.
Peretz added that he hopes that Sharon will decide on the elections date before Monday, which is the date for the preliminary reading for a bill to dissolve the Knesset.
Also, Peretz said that he believes that an agreement of early elections would calm the markets in Israel.
“I believe that if we go to the Knesset on Monday with an agreement, quiet will be brought to the political framework”, Peretz stated, “It will also calm markets in Israel”.
Officials close to Sharon said that he told Peretz that early elections are considered an irresponsible move, but he would agree to it if there was no other choice.
The officials added that Sharon will make his final decision after discussing this issue with heads of all parties.
The dates between February 26 and March 9 were suggested during the 20-minute Sharon-Peretz meeting.   
Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth published an interview with Sharon on Thursday; Sharon said that he changed his view on early elections after he saw that Peretz intends to end the coalition with the Likud and bring the government down.
Sharon intends to meet Shinui chairman, and opposition leader, Yosef Lapid, to discuss the issue of early elections. He also intends to discuss this issue with the United Torah Judaism party, on Sunday.
Labor party central committee will meet on Sunday, and will most likely decide that Labor Party Minister will resign from Sharon’s by Monday.  
Yet, Sharon declined to say whether he intends to remain in the Likud party, or head a new list. Associates of Sharon believe that he will announce his decision within a few days since he has all the data he needs, including in-depth surveys.
But senior Likud leaders think that Sharon will decide to remain with the party, which is a possible issue, his aides believe, without voiding the option of creating his own party.
“Sharon does not want just to be elected as a Prime Minister”, one of his aides said, “He want to be able to conduct political moves and run the country”.
Sharon himself also said that he does not intend to run a minority government, “I want to win the elections, and be able conduct many things”, he said.  
He added that elections should be held as soon as possible in order not to “turn 2006 into a lost year, which doesn’t include any diplomatic and economic moves”.  
Meanwhile, the Likud member of Knesset, and Sharon’s chief rival, Benjamin Netanyahu, told Sharon that the elections should be deterred until May 2005 in order to “give the people time to get tired of Peretz”; Sharon ignored the proposal.
Peretz will begin his campaign on Thursday; he will hold meetings with senior activists of the Labor party, and intends to launch a wide campaign throughout the country, by setting up booths to enable the people join the Labor Party.