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(photo credit: AP [file])
Ahead of the August 14 Likud primary, Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu and his associates vowed to expel his challenger Moshe Feiglin from the party, even if it meant going to the High Court of Justice.
But three weeks later, Feiglin is still in the party and Netanyahu has neither taken action against him, nor mentioned him since the race ended.
Likud sources revealed Monday that aides to Netanyahu called Feiglin's right-hand man, Michael Fuah, shortly after the race and the two agreed to lower the tone of debate.
Feiglin said Netanyahu realized that attacking him during the primary hurt himself and the party, but, he said, he was sure that Netanyahu had not given up his effort to prevent him from running for Knesset on the Likud list.
"He will still do everything possible to prevent me from running, and I don't think he has given up his effort to remove me from the party," Feiglin said. "It's all part of the game he is playing."
Likud sources said that Netanyahu took a vacation after the primary and had not even begun to consider how to handle Feiglin.
They said that one of Netanyahu's top priorities would be to build the most attractive Knesset list possible, and that this might require a mass Likud membership drive that could drown out Feiglin's support.
Despite the olive branch Netanyahu sent to Feiglin, the latter has not stopped attacking the former.
He said he was discouraged by polls that have shown that Netanyahu did not receive a boost from the primary and could easily lose the next general election to Defense Minister Ehud Barak of Labor or Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni of Kadima.
"I don't think the Likud has a chance to come back to power, unless there's a war or something else terrible happens," Feiglin said. "The Second Lebanon War and the anger it caused created the best possible opportunity for the Likud to return to power, but Netanyahu has, unfortunately, squandered it."