Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has registered his new political party under the name Qadima, which means Forward. Sharon left the Likud party on Monday to form what he described as a centrist grouping that will pursue peace with the Palestinians. Israeli President Moshe Katsav has signed an order calling early elections and dissolving parliament.
Once that has happened, Sharon will form an interim administration. The poll will be held on March 28, 2006. According to opinion polls, Sharon’s breakaway party could win as Likud – minus the prime minister – does not command the same level of support. Sharon decided to leave Likud after coalition partner Labour withdrew its support, although the move has been mooted for some time. He came under heavy criticism from many in the party for Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and it is believed he felt internal rifts were hampering his position.