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Israel Sets a Date in Spring for Early Elections

November 24, 2005|From Associated Press

JERUSALEM — Israel on Wednesday set early elections for March 28, clearing the way for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to try to stay in power as the head of a new centrist party.

Sharon bolted from his hard-line Likud and formed the National Responsibility party, which picked up momentum with an announcement by Haim Ramon, a Labor Party politician, that he is joining the group.

Sharon's aides said Wednesday that he would campaign on the U.S.-backed "road map" plan, which calls for Palestinian statehood as part of a peace deal. However, aides Lior Horev and Eyal Arad insisted that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas must dismantle militant groups before Israel has to start meeting its obligations, such as freezing West Bank settlement construction and removing outposts.

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