Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has quit the ruling Likud party, saying the party is no longer able to lead Israel to its national goals. Speaking Monday evening, Mr. Sharon said he helped set up Likud three decades ago to provide hope to the Israeli people. He said that hope no longer exists. He said the new party he plans to form will work to set permanent borders between Israel and the Palestinians. He also said he has no further plans for withdrawing unilaterally from the occupied West Bank as he did from the Gaza Strip earlier this year. An elections date in March is expected to be announced within days. Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called Mr. Sharon's resignation a "political volcano" and said it came as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He called the resignation the most significant political development in Israel since 1967.