(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The twelve remaining Likud MKs met on Friday in their Metzudat Ze'ev headquarters in Tel Aviv for the first time since Tuesday's elections in order to discuss their crushing defeat and their future plans.
In the meeting, MK Dan Naveh berated his colleague Gilad Erdan after the head of the party's strategic team MK Yuval Steinitz mentioned the latter as a person who should be commended for his hard work during the election campaign. A harsh confrontation then erupted between Naveh and Erdan.
Naveh later told Israel Radio that the Likud most pressing goal was to restore itself and ensure that it did not continue along the same path that it followed in recent times. He specifically lamented what he considered was his movement's straying to the extreme Right.
The former health minister criticized the election campaign, in which the Likud supposedly overused scare tactics and did not give the nation hope, according to Naveh. He said that lessons must be learned, and expressed his belief that even the "younger members" of the party - referring to Erdan - would learn the lessons.
After the meeting, Naveh, Erdan, Steinitz and MK Silvan Shalom convened to try and calm the acrimonious atmosphere.
In recapitulating the meeting, Steinitz appeared surprisingly optimistic, calling the meeting a good and necessary one, and asserted that the faction was moving in the right direction. He mentioned that the party would reconvene on Sunday.
Another issue on the agenda for the meeting on Sunday was the Likud's recommendation to President Moshe Katsav regarding who should be appointed to form the next coalition.
One decision that was reached was the re-election of MK Gideon Sa'ar as faction leader. Party leaders Silvan Shalom, Limor Livnat and Yisrael Katz objected to holding the vote before the political map was clarified. However, after they were overruled by the nine other participants in the meeting, Sa'ar was elected unanimously.
Before the meeting, it was thought that the Likud would discuss changing the chairman after top figures such as Shalom and MK Michael Eitan supported reconsidering Netanyahu's leadership. However, the topic was not discussed.
Many Likud supporters gathered outside the Likud headquarters before and during the meeting. The vociferous crowd was filled both with groups supporting Netanyahu's leadership, and those demanding his dismissal.