Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has reportedly quit the ruling Likud Party and plans to run separately in an early general election. The decision could be one of the most crucial political gambles of the 77 year old’s long career.No official declaration has yet been made, but an aide in Sharon’s office has confirmed the reports broadcast on Israeli army radio. It is being suggested by commentators that Sharon wants to try and beat the left of centre Labour Party in a snap election, and end conflict with the Palestinians, without pressure from Likud hardliners. Earlier in the day, the Labour Party, under new leader Amir Peretz, voted to leave the government, bringing an end to 10 months of collaboration between the two parties. It is anticipated that the week ahead will see a re-shaping of Israeli politics.