"Attempts to depict us as a radical and marginal movement are totally baseless. We must make every effort to thwart these attempts," newly-elected Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu told members of his faction at the Knesset on Wednesday.
According to Netanyahu, "The most important thing for us today is to unite our ranks and run together based on the Likud's path."
Netanyahu said he was happy that "many members in our party, including Landau, Livnat and Naveh, support my proposal to save the number two slot for Silvan Shalom
During the meeting it was also decided that the Likud central committee would convene on Sunday to vote on the subject of expelling those with criminal records from the party. By doing so, Netanyahu hopes to remove right wing activist Moshe Feiglin
from the list. Netanyahu is currently consulting with three legal experts on the matter. The central committee will also be asked to approve the no. 2 slot for Shalom.
Regarding the issue of quitting the government, Netanyahu said, "People ask me when we'll quit; I am still thinking about that and will announce my decision in the future."
As to the proposal to garner the support of 61 MKs to oust Sharon, Netanyahu noted, "I said in the past that it was not doable and my opinion hasn't changed."
The Likud leader called on faction members to present a consistent party message. "We need to take steps to get out of the crisis. We need to present change and renewal. If we work well, our mandates will climb," he vowed.
After keeping silent on his dealings with the Palestinians during the Likud primary campaign, Netanyahu turned to the left by stressing that he "personally signed successful agreements with the PA", in contrast with Sharon's "dangerous unilateral moves".
|Major political events until March 28 election
â€¢ Today Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu addresses the Likud faction in the Knesset for the first time since his victory in the party's primary elections.
â€¢ January 2 The 1,000-member Meretz convention will choose the party's top 20 candidates for the Knesset. On January 16 they will rank them in order.
â€¢ January 3 The Likud Central Committee's 3,050 members will select their list of candidates for the Knesset, at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds.
â€¢ January 12 The 167-member Shinui council will select its party list of candidates for the Knesset, in the Tel Aviv Crown Plaza hotel. The National Religious Party's members will also vote on their list of candidates today.
â€¢ January 17 The Labor party will hold primaries as its 120,000 members select the list of candidates for the Knesset, at polling stations throughout the country.
â€¢ January 26 MK Omri Sharon's sentencing, after he pleading guilty last month to laundering illegal funds for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's 1999 Likud election campaign.
â€¢ February 7 Deadline for all parties to submit their lists of candidates to the Central Election Committee. NOTE: Shas is expected to submit its list only on the last day, a decision made by the party's spiritual leader Rav Ovadiah Yosef. The National Union Party has already chosen its list. The Kadima party will submit its list at an unknown date, chosen by party leader Ariel Sharon.
â€¢ March 28 General Elections.|