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Elections 2006

Bibi - will he stay in Likud? Photo: AFP
Bibi - will he stay in Likud? Photo: AFP
 
 

Likud stunned by collapse

Likud shocked over poor showing; MK Eitan calls for investigative committee

Ilan Marciano
Latest Update: 03.28.06, 23:26 / Israel News

(VIDEO) The ink on the exit polls is not yet dry and the knives have already been drawn: With poll results showing a complete Likud collapse in the election, party officials are already preparing for the day after.

 

Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu faced party activists in Tel Aviv Tuesday night, but as opposed to many predictions did not show any intention to quit.

 

Likud suffers crushing defeat (Video: Yaron Brenner)

 

"We'll rehabilitate the movement, we'll continue with our way…we saw prettier days and we will see prettier days yet," he said, after activists welcomed him with loud cheers.

 

"We suffered a serious blow, but our way is the right one and the only one that will bring security to the country," he said.

 

The Likud's Knesset faction Chairman, Gideon Sa'ar, admitted election results constitute a "very difficult blow."

 

"In fact, this is the most serious blow suffered by the Likud since its establishment," he said. "Our worldview is now in the minority in the country…we must realize we need to rebuild the Likud."

 

Knesset Member Michael Eitan already spoke with a number of senior officials during the day and Ynet has learned that he plans to demand an internal investigative committee to examine how the party reached its current state.

 

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Eitan told Ynet that within a short time, dialogue must be held within the movement out of respect for the party's voters, in order to decide immediately the priority of future actions.

 

Other than an investigative committee, Eitan is seeking new Likud Central Committee elections, in order to create a new system in which internal matters are settled within the party, including internal elections.

 

Eitan has also asked to set up a body that will be responsible for organizing the internal and problematic issues, in order to prevent Likud infighting.

 

At first, Likud believed that the low voter turnout Tuesday would serve the party, but in the evening, following an assessment at the party's situation room, it emerged that the low turnout was registered mainly in the cities and towns thought to be Likud strongholds.

 

Emotional pleas by the party's chairman and Knesset Member Reuven Rivlin for disappointed Likud voters to come and vote did not help. Netanyahu toured many branches during the say and tried to exhibit optimism, but it was clear that he was highly tense.

 

In the evening hours, his staff sounded completely desperate. "The situation is difficult," they admitted. Likud sources even harshly condemned the IDF, asking: "Why was there a ban on the news of the Katyusha rocket on Ashkelon in the morning? Everything is politics, even the army," said a furious source.

 

'Bibi will stay in Likud'

 

Meanwhile, senior Likud members charged that supporters of Silvan Shalom, the former foreign minister, in fact worked to back Kadima.

 

"Central activists associated with Silvan worked against the Likud so it suffered a blow, in light of an estimate that if Bibi quits, Silvan will take his place and join Kadima," one source said.

 

Shalom's associates, however, dismissed the charges out of hand.

 

"They're already looking for guilty parties and an alibi," one source responded.

 

Netanyahu associated, meanwhile, said that Netanyahu would not be leaving the movement even if the Likud suffers a serious blow.

 

"There's no way he'll give Silvan the party," a Bibi associate said.

 

First Published: 03.28.06, 22:28

 

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