Sharon's Men Prepare Ammunition for Upcoming Likud Primaries

Cronies of the prime minister have recently been collecting information on Netanyahu to use it in the party's leadership race.

Aides to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon have begun preparing files documenting the actions of former finance minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sharon's main adversary in the Likud party's leadership race.

The information collected in the files document actions and statements by Netanyahu between 1996-1999, his tenure as prime minister, and also from the last two and a half years when he acted as finance minister.

The files are prepared ahead of the upcoming primaries at the Likud party, meant to determine the ruling party's leader for the expected elections to be scheduled in early 2006.

Among other things, the files include mentions of contact between Netanyahu and the then Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. They also contain detailed documentation of conflicting statements the former finance minister made in relation to the disengagement.

A source close to the prime minister confirmed to Haaretz that soon Sharon?s men will ?refresh the memories? of Likud party members and voters, about ?the real Netanyau.?

The preparations made by Sharon?s people indicate that he has not yet given up on leading the Likud and the he braces himself for a battle over the party leadership with Netanyau. Around the prime minister, however, people say that if he reaches the conclusion close to the primaries that his chances of winning are slim he would prefer to divide the Likud into what is called in political jargon a ?small bank,? i.e. running against Netanyau as the leader of an independent list of Likud departed.